By Ngor Arol Garang
September 12, 2011 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s foreign minister on Sunday called on the international community to fulfill its historical obligation to supporting countries that are afflicted by serious shortages of food due to factors that are beyond their control.
It is estimated that 750,000 people could die in Somalia in a famine caused by conflict and natural causes.
Nhial Deng Nhial, made the appeal in Nairobi on the closing day of the Horn of Africa Hunger Crisis conference that focused on both short and long term measures to avert starvation in the Horn of Africa.
The minister whose statement was broadcasted live on South Sudan Television and Radio informed the delegates at the summit that policy aimed at providing subsidised fertilizers and high yield seeds to small-scale farmers would be one of the substitutes to global food crisis.
Nhial a senior member of the high level delegation led by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit, which left Juba on Thursday for Nairobi, Kenya, to attend the two-day meeting that brought together different heads of state and government to the summit chaired by the Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.
The summit which saw participation of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and representatives of government leaderships in Africa and beyond.
Sharing experience on strategies employed to fight hunger in the newly established State of South Sudan, minister Nhial said provision of subsidy to farmers would help the country increase production food.
"The shortage of food that afflicts the continent results from poor production based on subsistence farming. Agriculture in Africa lacks mechanisation to a large extent, hence the need to support small-scale farmers,” he said.
He proposed effective use of existing water sources like rivers, lakes and dams for irrigation in all areas that are privileged with such water resources to supplement production that cannot be achieved in dry areas.
"We have made attempts to introduce modern agriculture schemes including irrigation in different places in the big six regions with reliable rainfall. These regions have been detailed to feed the whole country, and we have logged success."
South Sudan has offered to help financially to address the famine and to provide troops to the African Union mission supporting the Somalia government.
The offers of assistance come despite South Sudan itself suffering from food shortages and relying on aid agencies to feed a lot of its population, especially those displaced by conflict or those that have returned from North Sudan.
A recent UN report found that conflict has led to the deaths of more than 1,500 people and the displacement of over 73,000 in recent months.
In July South Sudan became independent and the offer of aid is seen as gesture of its arrival on the international stage.