Small Farmers In South Sudan Take Bold Step Into Markets

One of the least developed regions on earth, South Sudan is a tough place for small farmers to get ahead. But a few of them have, like maize growers Paul and Angelo, who have made the leap into commercial farming with the support of the Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative.

JUBA-Like most members of the Nzara Agricultural Farmer Association (NAFA), Paul and Angelo’s transformation into successful commercial farmers didn’t happen overnight.As participants in WFP’s P4P, which helps to link farmers with markets, Paul and Angelo had a lot to learn about modern methods of storage and quality control. They had to start using bags and tarpaulins to dry and pack their maize, and learn to keep it safe from rot and rodents. It also took courage. Paul and Angelo live in an area also frequented by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a paramilitary group known for terrorizing small villages throughout central Africa. But their hard work paid off when, after the first delivery, Paul and Angelo returned from WFP’s office in Juba with $49,000 to distribute among their fellow farmers.

A running start

South Sudan is a landlocked area roughly the size of France, but with extremely poor roads. Shipping large amounts of food is difficult and expensive. While hugely beneficial, that makes the P4P programme in South Sudan one of the most challenging to date. Poor roads and infrastructure are compounded by a daunting security situation and a lack of important   institutions, like banks, that would help to support the economy. Something as simple as cashing a check in Southern Sudan can be a complicated, time-consuming ordeal

Looking forward

But at least in the case of the Nzara Agricultural Farmer Association members, the hurdles were overcome. At the time of WFP's first payment to NAFA, some 130 metric tons had already been delivered with another 120 tons were being aggregated for delivery. Moreover, the money earned by its members will help to convince other farmers in the region to increase production.With maize purchased in South Sudan, WFP was able to supply food for Congolese and Central African refugees who have been displaced into South Sudan as a result of widespread attacks by LRA rebels.