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South Sudan, UN agree to boost agribusiness development   

JUBA, (Xinhua) -- South Sudan and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have agreed to jointly implement a project worth 500,000 U.S. dollars aimed at promoting  collaboration in small-scale agriculture and agro-processing, a senior government official said on Monday.

Minister of Trade and Investment Moses Hassan Tiel said the partnership seeks to strengthen food security through advancement of small scale farming, agro-processing and product certification in the conflict-hit East African nation.

“We are working together with UNIDO to develop policy documents to help us with quality assurance and certification for agricultural products produced here in South Sudan. We are working hard to make sure that agriculture products are processed here in South Sudan to boost agriculture and our economy,” Tiel said

He said the new project would prioritize improvement of honey products, fruits such as mangoes and pineapples and Gum Arabic in order to diversify the economy of the oil-reliant country.

Tiel said South Sudan’s first honey export to Japan and Kenya last year ignited the hopes of scale farmers to engage in commercial agriculture.

The world’s youngest country is blessed with enormous agricultural wealth that remains untapped due to years of conflict, lack of land policies and poor infrastructure.

According to data from the Ministry of Food Security and Agriculture, 648,000 square kilometers of the African country is arable, home to 11.7 million heads of cattle and is also capable of producing 400 tons of fish annually from its vast Swamps and the River Nile.

Despite the huge opportunities, last week the UN declared famine in parts of South Sudan.

The UN said the disaster is man-made after the world’s newest country plunged into civil war in 2013 following a political rift between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.

Tiel said the government seeks to support small scale farmers with necessary skills to help boost food production. 

“It is now a priority that we encourage our small scale farmers to grow much so that we restore food security in South Sudan and also level the trade balance because currently we import most of our food products including vegetables,” he said.

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