Bank on double missions to end humanitarian crisis

By Bullen Bala Alexander

The African Development Bank (ADB) has provided USD 14 million grants to the government to support the Agricultural Markets, Value Addition and Trade Development (AMVAT) project and $ 200,000 grant to respond to the humanitarian issues in the country.

The two grant agreements were signed between the African Development Bank, government and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) yesterday in Juba.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, the Minister of Finance and Planning Athian Ding Athian, expressed his bottomless appreciation to the African Development Bank for its growing assistance to the country.

“As usual, ADB is the bank that has stood with South Sudan supporting different projects in the country and the projects that we have signed today will enhance the three ministries, including Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management and Ministry of Trader,” Minster Athian said.

According to the Finance Minister, the $ 14 million and $ 200,000 will be added value to the country’s economy and will help the country to move away from depending always on oil as the country embark on agriculture and developing the market for the agriculture harvest as well as helping those who have been affected by floods to move away from food assistance.

“With the support from our partners, we are building an improved marketing and trade environment for agribusinesses, increasing people’s incomes and creating new jobs, particularly for the youth,” he added.

He said that the diversified economy away from oil and long-term growth depends on promoting agribusiness development.

Benedict Sorie Kanu the African Development Bank Country Manager said that the aim of giving grants is to enable government diversify the economic agenda and to help it expand from the oil dependency.

“The oil which you know is the main income earner for government but oil is not inclusive, therefore we have to support government to advance economic diversification agenda towards more productive sectors like agriculture,” he said.

He said that agriculture is a corner stone to a country’s economy, it is very important for employment, for incomes, and for economic diversification.  

“We have completed the signing of two agreements, $ 14 million aimed at supporting agricultural markets value addition and trade development for South Sudan. We also signed grant agreements to $ 200,000 aimed at helping the effort by the government and humanitarian communities in South Sudan to respond to humanitarian issues that have been faced by the South Sudanese,” he revealed.

He further added that with South Sudan being land-locked and experiencing weak urban infrastructure, having good access to lucrative markets especially within the country is a necessary condition for farmers to be profitable, productive and reduce risk of loss of surplus farm produce.

He said a key factor explaining Africa’s and especially South Sudan’s low level of agricultural value addition is the inefficient marketing infrastructure.

“This prevents farmers and processors from realizing the full value of their produce, even in their raw form,” Mr. Kanu added.

Meanwhile, Meshack Malo, FAO country Representative, which is also the implementing partner welcomes African Development Bank’s $14 million grant to boost agricultural markets and add value in the country.

The FAO representative said that the project will help increase the productivity and incomes of almost 20,000 farming families in Central and Eastern Equatoria and Jonglei states, most of whom are formerly internally displaced persons now returned to their homes in need of economic reintegration.

“We aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity and boosting marketing and trade of agricultural products in South Sudan,” Mr. Malo said.

According to Malo, the signed project will create aggregation business opportunities for farmers and traders, including women and youth and provide them with new skills and knowledge, and the agro-processing equipment they need to produce competitive products.

The project will be implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in close liaison with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

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