South Sudan remains highly food insecure despite the increase of cereal production in 2020, two UN agencies say.
According to the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization, the country needs 1.3 million metric tons of cereal a year to feed 12.2 million people.
Cereal includes wheat, maize, rice, and sorghum.
In 2020, the agencies said, cereal production rose by seven percent due to favorable rains.
This is equivalent to an estimated 874,400 metric tons, which is higher than the 818,500 metric tons produced in 2019.
However, WFP and FAO stated that this level can only feed a third of the population, leaving most people reliant on humanitarian food assistance and imports of essential grains, at prices beyond the reach of ordinary South Sudanese.
They noted that the low cereal production is caused by the impact of prolonged conflict and floods.
In a joint report with the Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission, the agencies revealed that only Western Equatoria state produce enough cereal for FAO and WFP to purchase locally to feed the hungry in the other nine states.
Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile are said to have the highest cereal deficit levels in the country -exposing nearly 50 percent of people to food insecurity.
This is because of the recurring conflict and huge floods in the three states which has severely hindered agriculture.
WFP Representative and country director in South Sudan believes that the production of cereal is favorable in areas where there is peace and stability.
Matthew Hollingworth noted that the WFP and FAO often purchase cereal from Western Equatoria state to feed people in the other nine states.
But the humanitarian agencies maintain that food security is a huge challenge to 7.2 million people in South Sudan due to violence and conflict, competition among groups over resources such as farmland and water.
Other factors, they said, include new protracted displacements due to violence and floods both destroyed assets and eroded communities’ resilience.
The agencies called for an increase in crop production and to allow communities to contribute to the expansion of the planted areas.
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