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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Sowing the seeds of food security in South Sudan

FAO and France will establish a programme in the Republic of South Sudan to boost the quality of the seeds used in the production of  key crops.
The project will include seed fairs, capacity development for seed enterprises, input distribution and Farmer Field Schools. It will also increase the amount of land dedicated to quality-seed multiplication.
The year-long programme, valued at $612 000 (EUR 0,5m) will be implemented in several states and will help to train farmers in the production, storage and marketing of quality seeds and cuttings for staple crops like sorghum, maize, cassava and cowpeas.
Decades of conflict and displacement have taken their toll on farmers' access to quality seeds and other planting materials, and eroded their knowledge of seed production techniques. Together, these factors have severely undermined crop productivity and farmers' livelihoods.
The programme aims to help an estimated 30 000 people from more than 5 000 vulnerable farming households, in addition to 400 seed producers. The beneficiaries, half of whom are women, live in the states of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, Lakes, Western Bahr el Ghazal and Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
More than 90 percent of South Sudanese farmers still depend on the informal seed system, which is based primarily on saved seeds (42 percent), social networks (26 percent), and local markets (22 percent). Typically, farmers repeatedly use saved seeds from one season to the next, which tends to lessen the genetic purity of the seed.

Source: FAO