South Sudan is banking on oil earnings to revive its stalled agriculture and save its population from perennial dependence on food imports and relief supplies.
Announced last week by President Salva Kiir, the new plan seeks to tap into oil revenue and reinvest in agricultural production.
It is part of efforts by the country, ravaged by civil conflict since 2013, to return to normalcy, according to officials.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister, Onyoti Adigo says his office is reviewing Master Plan as it awaits payments from oil to kick-start the year-long pilot project that may include subsidised supplies from the government.
“I just notified all my ministry’s staff to immediately prepare a work plan in terms of machineries, fuel for farmers and quality seeds. We are going to prepare all these things and present them to the president so that all people can engage and boost agriculture sector earlier this year,” says Onyoti.
The country expects to form a government of national unity by February 22, after initial deadlines were postponed twice. Onyoti admits that the new administration and subsequent peace could be a necessary catalyst for the project to mature.
“The coming of peace will be a blessing and, if I continue to serve in this ministry, I will push for the country to achieve its priorities within two years. We will have to produce our own food and avoid importation of food from the neighbouring countries.” he adds.
The project faces other challenges though: South Sudan, according to the World Bank, is one of the most oil-dependent countries in the world and its oil revenues account for 40 percent of its GDP.
It means the oil monies are also needed for security budgets as well as the actual implementation of the peace agreement, which requires retraining and re-equipment of forces.