January 24, 2013 (JUBA) – Statistics on the wealth of livestock per capita in South Sudan have indicated the region is leading the world in the under-utilised economic sector.
With a population of 8.2 million people according to a 2008 disputed population census, South Sudan has over 31 million head of cattle, sheep and goats, making it a world-leading nation when the animal wealth is calculated per capita.
Botswana formerly topped livestock wealth per capita figures, before the latest statistics put South Sudan in the lead.
The statistics, revealed on Wednesday by the minister of animal resources and fisheries, Martin Elia Lomoro, also indicated the nation’s huge livestock wealth has not been utilised or introduced into the economic development of the country, which would have contributed to generating non-oil revenues.
Despite its enormous livestock wealth, South Sudan continues to import most of its meat from neighbouring countries, losing hundreds of millions of dollars every year without exports in return.
The economic cluster meeting on Wednesday chaired by vice-president Riek Machar discussed some of the main challenges facing the industry, including the traditional mindset of cattle keepers, who consider the value of livestock merely in terms of marriage and prestige.
The meeting discussed the need to change these attitudes and persuade cattle keepers to commercialise the commodity by bringing the cattle to the markets so as to benefit from their other economic values.
There are also trans-boundary animal diseases which need to be controlled in the 10 states of the region. According to the minister, this could be done by designing mechanisms to make sure that animals are routinely vaccinated in order to maintain their good health, as well as produce quality meat and dairy products.
South Sudan has been dependent on oil revenues for 98% of its annual budget for the last eight years despite the huge potential from the non-oil resources.