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Prioritize agriculture, S. Sudan first lady tells citizens

March 25, 2018 (JUBA) – The first lady of South Sudan, Mary Ayen has appealed to the South Sudanese population to prioritize agriculture, saying it will help the war-torn nation fight looming food insecurity.

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South Sudan’s first lady Mary Ayen (SSTV photo)

Ayen on Friday visited Green Horizon farm, north of Bilpham in Juba.

In a statement to the media, Ayen said her visit to the farm was to encourage citizens to focus on agriculture during the rainy seasons.

“Even elderly people should go back home so that people can start farming. Women should talk to their husbands about the importance of peace in our country,” partly reads the first lady’s statement.

She appealed to youth to intensify efforts in agriculture, while also appealing to the population to work towards peace and stability.

South Sudan has a wealth of untapped agricultural assets. For instance, with 30 million hectares of arable land, across six agro-ecological zones, the young nation is capable of producing an array of agricultural products, from cereals to oil seeds, horticulture, and specialty products such as Shea butter and Gum Arabic.

But despite the huge agricultural potential it possessed, only about 5% of the country’s land is cultivated. Moreover, South Sudan also offers abundant water resources in the Nile basin, and forestry assets are plentiful, with tens of thousands of hectares of teak and other high-value hardwoods available for sustainable harvesting.

In 2012, President Salva Kiir announced a goal to achieve food self-sufficiency in the country. The ministry of agriculture launched the National Effort for Agricultural Transformation, and started to identify agricultural opportunities for foreign investors and agribusinesses.