Keen to witness the work being done by women in the seed sector in South Sudan, a 23-member delegation, led by Therese Marjan Schippers, Ambassador of the Netherlands to South Sudan, visited Yambio, Nzara County, on November 30, 2023.
The delegates included representatives of the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the European Union, the College of Natural Resources and Environment of the University of Juba, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Johanniter International, Co-operative Bank of South Sudan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Ministry of Gender, Child & Social Welfare, and IFDC counterparts in Burundi and Mali.
The group met with seed farmers and their on-farm workers. Josephine Garebere, an outgrower and seed producer, thrilled the delegation with her inspiring story, stating, “PRO Seed Limited has trained us seed growers on the best practices of producing quality seeds, from land preparation to harvesting and post-harvest handling of seed and marketing.”
Garebere currently employs 16 permanent workers at her 60-acre farm and has mobilized over 20 women in her village to start producing seeds. Her major challenges have been the lack of proper storage facilities and the high cost of seed transport from the farm to Nzara.
The farm showcases the adoption of good agricultural practices, such as line planting and appropriate spacing, thanks to the dedicated staff of PRO Seed Ltd. The seed production and marketing company imparts skills and knowledge not only in agronomy, but also in agribusiness management. The training guides used were developed by IFDC’s A3-SEED technical team, which also provided capacity building to the production staff of PRO Seed Ltd.
“I feel empowered. I believe a woman can thrive when supported with resources, skills, and knowledge.”Josephine Garebere
“Farmers like Josephine Garebere are an inspiration to us in the private sector. The lack of quality seeds in the state has stagnated productivity for years. Thankfully, IFDC came up with the idea of supporting seed companies to increase the production of quality seeds. Josephine took up the challenge of working with us as an outgrower for foundation seeds and she is happy. We are very pleased with the quality seeds she provides us,” remarked Isaac Woja, Executive Director of PRO Seed Ltd.
During the visit, Ambassador Schippers lauded the great work that IFDC and its partners are doing and acknowledged the challenges in implementation. The delegation later met with the Government of Western Equatoria State, represented by Governor Alfred Futiyo Karaba, State Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Environment Alison Barnaba, and other leaders, at the State Legislative Secretariat building.
Governor Karaba expressed his commitment to work with all partners for the economic and social benefit of the citizens, saying, “Yambio comes second after the capital Juba in terms of business opportunities. Access to financial services has been a key challenge since 2016, and I request that financial institutions consider supporting this important sector to support businesses within the state.”
Justin Miteng, IFDC Country Representative of South Sudan, pronounced his appreciation for the delegation’s visit, stating, “We are honored to have hosted this high-level delegation in Yambio, led by Her Excellency, Therese Marjan Schippers. Western Equatoria State is fortunate to be chosen for this visit. We hope today’s visit will further strengthen collaborations and coordination of investment efforts for a food-secure Western Equatoria and South Sudan at large.”
Juvenal Nzambimana, Technical Team Leader of Agriculture for the World Bank, expressed the organization’s commitment to transformative development in South Sudan, stating, “I see that the challenges facing food security need the contribution of everyone, including donors, the private sector, and governments. It should not be left to donors or development partners alone if we want to see progress in development.” Minister Barnaba also voiced gratitude to the A3-SEED project, saying, “We appreciate the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands through IFDC South Sudan, as this has improved local seed production in the state.”
The collaborative efforts of dedicated individuals, organizations, and initiatives such as A3-SEED play a pivotal role in fostering sustainable agricultural development and ensuring food security in South Sudan through improved seed quality. By sharing the necessary knowledge in producing quality seeds, farmers’ livelihoods also improve as they gain sufficient income and provide for their community.
A3-SEED is led by IFDC and implemented together with the KIT Royal Tropical Institute. The project provides market-oriented interventions to move from humanitarian support to a commercial, sustainable, and adaptive agriculture sector. A3-SEED seeks to reach more than 100,000 farming households that will see a doubling of income from marketable surpluses of targeted commodities, thereby improving livelihoods.