Opinion

Working relationship between National and State Ministries of Agriculture

By: Joseph Akim Gordon

Agriculture is the backbone of South Sudan economy, majority of our people live in rural areas, but to promote agricultural development there is need to invest in agriculture and provide farmers with productive resources and capacity development for both extension workers and farmers.  For meaningful agricultural development to take place, the provision of human resource cadre and financial resources complement each other. To provide human resources without financial resources can become counter-productive. The small farmers in rural areas produce the bulk of food to feed the urban people. For this reason, they need every support to enable them to continue to provide to the urban dwellers.

All agricultural developments take place in States, Payams or Bomas. At national level the Ministry of Agriculture deals with policy direction, providing resources and training to the States, supervision, monitoring and evaluation of programs and projects. The structure of the national and state ministries is made in such a way that the States do not deal directly with the national Government, there are no linkage and coordination mechanism with the states, the budget for the states goes directly from the Ministry of Finance to the states. This working relationship is vital because the national ministry of agriculture can be in position to support farmers, particularly when there is an outbreak of pests, the national ministry of agriculture will be able to support state government to eradicate such a disaster.

The poor coordination with states makes it impossible for agricultural development to take place in the States. So, there is need to develop mechanisms of coordination and cooperation for the success of agricultural development. Some development partners and NGOs go directly to invest in agriculture and other sectors, the national ministries have limited ideas of what is taking place in the states, state ministries of agriculture provide regular reports to their governors keeping the national Government out.

Similarly, all the Development partners and investors operating in the states do not even provide regular reports of projects or program working progress. The national ministry of agriculture together with the line ministries operating in agriculture sector should be in position to receiving regular reports. The national ministry of agriculture should be receiving regular reports about the subject-matters from all these institutions. This will enable the ministry to be in position to render national report about the status of agriculture in the country.

With the formation of new government in the country in February, there is need to create structures where the national and state Government will coordinate and collaborate with each other.  The State ministries should provide the national government with regular reports .This will enable the national government to help the states with some resources, to conduct training of trainers in the state and also some short term training abroad or in the country

It is also important to mention that the national Ministry of Agriculture should also be receiving regular reports from UN agencies like FAO, WFP and others about their agricultural operations in the country. The ministry should design a plan which encompasses the ministry conduct regular monitoring and evaluation mission to production sites to see what is being done on the ground rather than receiving impressive reports in the field while in reality it is not the case in the field.

In conclusion the national ministry of agriculture should develop a good working relationship with Development partners, NGOs and UN agencies supporting agricultural projects

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