The Potential in the Agricultural Sector in South Sudan
South Sudan has a geographical area of 650,500 square kilometers occupied by a disputed population of 8.2 million people, according to the census held in 2008 which was projected to be 12.5 million people. South Sudan effectively emerged from war on January, 9th 2005, when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in Nairobi, Kenya. After six years of autonomous operations, as a provisional government, a referendum was held in January, 2011, as was provided for in the CPA, and the country decided with a 98.3% vote for separation from the north. South Sudan has 7 ecological zones, namely: The Green Belt, the Central Hills, the Ironstone Plateau, the Mountain Slopes, the Flood Pains, the Nile-Sobat Corridor and the South East Plains.
The Green Belt
This is the most fertile arable land in South Sudan with two rainy seasons. It includes the southern parts of Eastern Equatoria, the Central Equatoria and the western parts of Western Equatoria. The rainfall is between 1200 -2000 mm p.a. for about 8 months from March, which is ideal for the production of cereals like maize, sorghum, finger millet, rice; root crops: cassava, sweet potatoes, yams; legumes: cowpeas, pigeon peas, grams; oil seeds: groundnuts, sesame; cash crops: coffee, tea, tobacco, cotton; horticultural crops; fruits: mangoes, pawpaw, bananas, pineapples, melons; vegetables: okra, pumpkins, dodo and others. Livestock: beef and dairy cattle (all traditional), goats, sheep and poultry. Forest products like equatorial and tropical hard woods of mahogany, olea, vulva and plantation teak; honey, and wildlife in Nimule/Kajo Keji game parks and the other game parks in Western Equatoria.
Central Hills Zone
This is located in the northern side of the green belt astride the Nile River, touching eastern parts of Western Equatoria and extends to Lakes State, north of Tali Payam. It has one long rainy season, the rainfall being 900mm p.a from April to November. The main crops are cereals: sorghum, maize (small); oil seeds: groundnuts, sesame; Horticulture: fruits mangoes, pawpaw, citrus, guavas, bananas (on river banks) and vegetables like okra. Other crops include legumes: cowpeas, grams. Livestock: cattle, goats, sheep, poultry; Cash crops: cotton, sugar cane, market gardening. Forest products : natural hard woods and acacia gum.
Ironstone Plateau Zone
This zone covers most of Bahr el Ghazal, north of the Central Hills, west of the River Nile and is composed of lateritic red soils. The rainfall is 700 -900 mm. p.a. from May to November. The main crops include cereals: sorghum, pearl millet; Oil seeds, groundnuts and sesame; Pulses cowpeas; Horticultural crops fruits, mangoes, citrus, melons, vegetables okra and others. Forest products are hard woods esp. mahogany from Lakes Raga and plantation teak.
Mountain Slopes Zone (EE)
This zone contains the highest mountain peaks in South Sudan. These are Imatong and Kinyeti where the rainfall is 900 -1200mm p.a. from April. A wide range of crops is grown including cereals like maize (long period), sorghum, wheat and barley (potential); Oil seeds: groundnuts, sesame; Root crops/tubers cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, and Irish potatoes.
Flood Plains Zone
Cereals crops of sorghum, maize, rice, are grown in this zone. In Renk, cereal production is 100 % mechanized. Oil seeds: groundnuts, sesame; Pulses: cowpeas, grams; Horticulture: fruits mangoes, guavas, citrus, vegetables okra, egg plants, cabbages and others. The zone is subject to annual flooding and the floods often destroy the crops. Livestock: cattle is the main activity amongst the pastoralists but there also large numbers of goats and sheep. There is a large stock of fish in the sudd and tributaries of the White Nile making fishing a big economic activity. Wildlife in Badingilo Game Park, Mangalla Payam, and Boma Game Parks in Jonglei state have a great potential for the development of tourism.
The Nile–Sobat Corridor Zone
The corridor lies on the banks of the River Sobat as it flows out of the Ethiopian plateau to enter the White Nile. Numerous tributaries flow from a similar direction and enter the River Sobat before the Nile. Activities in this zone are similar to those of the flood plains where the cereals sorghum, maize and rice are the main produce. Livestock keeping and fishing in the river swamps are the major economic activities. Wildlife is in the Boma Game Park.
The South East Plain Zone
This zone occupies Eastern Kapoetta. It has low rainfall of 350 -500mm p.a. Semi-desert plants and grasses for grazing are the major growth; cattle, sheep and goats are the main economic activity but short season cereals can be grown. A variety of wildlife is found in the rivers and stream courses.
Low yields are the norm due to lack of quality seeds, no disease control facilities, absence of pesticides and lack of fertilizers. There are no vibrant markets due to poor primary, secondary and feeder roads for transporting the produce to the markets and population concentration/consumption centres like Juba. And this is in addition to large post harvest losses.
Labour costs per unit are high. There is minimal agricultural mechanization in South Sudan. Recently introduced tractors lack service and maintenance workshops while the use of ox plough is still unknown and insecurity restricts labour movement. There is lack of equipment for bush clearing and so far there is little/limited investment in agriculture because of lack of affordable capital. Traditional agriculture and livestock rearing practices are still largely in use. There is little use of improved technologies; poor veterinary services; no research institutions to produce better crop varieties and animal breeds. Land access: small fields; issues of communal ownership of land persist.
During the recently concluded Agricultural Exhibition held from 9th to 12th November, 2011, at Nyakuron Cultural Centre, Juba, the productivity of the Green Belt Zone was evident in the array, the quality and level of agricultural activity that was exhibited by different farming organizations in the belt. Exhibits of the cereals, tubers, oilseeds, vegetables, fruits and animal products enumerated above were displayed by different agricultural groups that attended the exhibition. Over 90% of the exhibitors came from the Green Belt Zone and included: Catholic Diocese of Tamburo/Yambio from Western Equatoria, Christian Development/Ras Farm from Morobo County, Equatorial Gumbo Farm, Garden of Eden,Lady Lomin from Kajo Keji, Nature Valley Organic Farms, South Farmers CO. Ltd., South Sudan Agricultural Producers Union, Sudan Honey Enterprise all from Central Equatoria State.