Since the start of 2016, FAO and its partners have distributed vital crop seeds and agricultural tools to more than 180 000 farming households in South Sudan – benefiting about 1.1 million people. The farmers received the seeds ahead of the planting season, allowing them enough time for proper land preparation and planting.
Many families have extremely depleted seed reserves, either because they were unable to plant last year or because of a low harvest. At the same, their incomes have been reduced, lowering their purchasing power and preventing them from replenishing their reserves by buying seeds in local markets. “In some cases, families have been forced to consume or sell their seeds for food, said Serge Tissot, FAO Representative in South Sudan. “Seed distributions have come at a critical moment. Without this support, many families would be unable to plant this year, meaning another year of relying on external assistance to meet their basic food needs.”
In 2015, violence forced many farmers in South Sudan from their lands, leaving them unable to plant their crops. In areas where security has improved, such as Western Equatoria, Unity and Jonglei, farmers are returning and FAO’s support has been crucial in enabling them to plant and resume food production. With the food security situation dire, this is a critical time to ensure a decent harvest for South Sudan – last year, local production met about 70 percent of the nation’s cereal needs.
Working with local and international partners to reach those most in need
Getting the seeds to farmers on time is a challenge. The season extends from as early as mid-March in the Equatoria regions up to June in Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr El Ghazal. FAO therefore worked closely with more than 40 partners – half of which were national NGOs – to ensure the success of the crop seed distributions in almost all counties of South Sudan. The support of the WFP-led Logistics Cluster was critical in ensuring the seeds and tools were transported to hard-to-reach areas of the former Jonglei and Upper Nile States.
In Greater Upper Nile, FAO and its partners provided seeds and tools directly to beneficiaries. In other areas, FAO has scaled up the distribution of seeds through seed fairs. These essentially involve giving vulnerable families vouchers with a pre-set value that they can use to ‘buy’ seeds at a local fair that has been organized with local traders. More than 80 000 families have been reached through seed fairs in 2016, and over 110 000 vulnerable families received their seeds through direct distribution.
“With the seed fairs, we are increasing access to local, but high quality seeds in a sustainable way. The fairs also boost the local economy by working with local traders, which directly injects money into the market”, explained Abdoul Karim Bah, Deputy FAO Representative. “FAO strives to implement all distributions through seed fairs as far as security and market functioning allows”.
In Greater Equatoria, more than 40 000 households received crop seeds and tools from FAO, while over 60 000 households benefited in Greater Bahr El Ghazal and a further 90 000 received assistance in Greater Upper Nile. These include refugee households, who received the inputs within the framework of a joint operation by FAO and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In addition to the crop seeds and tools, FAO and its partners have also distributed more than 170 000 vegetable seeds and tools and over 140 000 fishing kits in South Sudan.
In 2016, FAO’s emergency response activities are made possible thanks to the financial support of the Common Humanitarian Fund, and the Governments of Denmark and Norway, the Swiss Confederation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.