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Agriculture minister blames finance ministry for delaying funds

Author: Okot Emmanuel/Garang Abraham | Published: Monday, January 6, 2020

A farmer in Magwi clears weed in his maize farm/File photo/Eye Radio.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security has blamed the ministry of finance and planning for delaying funds approved last year by the cabinet and parliament for managing fall army worm in the country.

The fall army worm, is a pest that feeds in large numbers on the leaves, stems and reproductive parts of maize, rice, sorghum, sugarcane and wheat but also other vegetable crops and cotton.

In 2017, the government declared outbreak of army warm in Magwi, Yei, and Juba areas of the Equatoria region, and some parts of Northern Bahr el Gazal and Jonglei states.

Last year, the council of ministers approved 66 million South Sudanese Pounds for managing the pest across the country, but up to date, the ministry of finance has not reportedly released the money.

The Minster of Agriculture and Food Security, Onyoti Adigo said since 2017, the warm destroyed farms of crops in many parts of the country reducing annual harvests and making the country food insecure.

“There was 60 million South Sudanese Pounds that we were running after so that we could buy some chemicals to manage the army worm but nothing happened,” said Adigo. “But unfortunately we did not receive it to fight army worm.”

In September last year, the government and three UN agencies warned that more than half of the population in South Sudan were food insecure.

Despite the country’s huge agricultural potential, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says only about 5 percent of South Sudan is cultivated due to the civil war that started in 2013, and inadequate investment in the agriculture sector.

“But now the problem is the minister of finance who is supposed to implement the release of the funds because it’s something that had been approved by the council of ministers and the national parliament,” Adigo added. “It’s a shame to the people of South Sudan that, when we have abundant land and very fertile but people can still die from hunger.”

The agriculture minister said the government should support agriculture to reduce importation of food that can easily be produced locally.

On December 29 last year, President Salva Kiir advised South Sudanese to engage in agriculture to prevent poverty and help recover the country’s economy, promising to prioritize investments in when a unity government is formed.

However minister Adigo says the Office of the President should be the one to direct the ministry of finance to release money for his ministry  for implementation of projects meant to increase food production.

“In most cases, it is the president or the prime minister of the different countries that take the responsibility for instance in Ethiopia the prime minister really took over the responsibility of food security and agriculture like the security of the country,” Adigo added.

He says if the sector is not invested in, the country would continue experiencing food shortages  across the country.

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