FAO Warns Of Increased Food Insecurity Despite Improved Harvests In 2012

This article was last updated on May 25, 2022

According to a latest report by the organization and WFP at least 4.1 million people in South Sudan are likely to be food insecure this year.

The report unveiled that food production increased by over 35 percent between 2011 and 2012 due to good rains, improved cultivation practices and expanded area under cultivation.

However, despite the improvement, nearly 40 percent of the country’s population will have trouble getting enough food to eat at some point during the year.

“South Sudan has tremendous agricultural potential, and the improved harvest estimate is good news, but the country’s overall food security situation remains very precarious,” said WFP Country Director Chris Nikoi.

“We must redouble efforts to improve the livelihoods of the poorest and most vulnerable South Sudanese, and ensure they can produce their own food or can afford to buy food to meet their needs, and are more resilient to shocks,” urged Nikoi.

The FAO-WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to South Sudan (CFSAM) report is based on an assessment carried out between October and November 2012 aiming at providing a platform in assessing South Sudan’s agricultural production and food availability.

“The CFSAM is our best estimate, but it’s imprecise,” said Dr. Sue Lautze, FAO’s Head of Office in South Sudan. “What we need is a comprehensive agricultural census covering fish, livestock and crops. This would provide a more accurate baseline against which annual production can be more precisely measured.”

South Sudan’s cereal deficit is estimated at 371,000 metric tons for the year, which is about one-third of its total cereal requirement of just over one million tons. Commercial imports will meet some of the “cereal gap,” but the report notes that because of high food prices and poor commercial supply in some parts of the country, a significant amount of food assistance will be required.

WFP plans to provide food and nutrition assistance to about 2.8 million people, including food insecure rural families, vulnerable children, internally displaced people (IDPs), refugees and returnees. This will require about 224,000 tons of food of various kinds.

The report also warns that increased conflict and economic instability could increase the number of people requiring food assistance by more than a million.

Insecurity still remains a major constraint to optimizing South Sudan’s agricultural potential. Incidents of armed cattle rustling, conflicts between and among communities, and the activities of militia groups continue to inhibit farmers in affected areas.

In a move to better the situation, FAO is implementing a broad portfolio of agricultural relief and rehabilitation projects as well as longer-term capacity building projects in South Sudan. It is also providing livelihood recovery support to IDPs, returnees and vulnerable resident households to increase agricultural production and productivity to improve food and nutrition security, promote peace building, accelerate recovery and lay the foundations for recovery.

FAO is seeking US$40 million in donor support through the UN Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) to support livestock, crop, horticulture, fisheries and agro-forestry humanitarian interventions, as well as its coordination roles, says the report.

Meanwhile the WFP’s food assistance programs in 2013 will focus on supporting some 2.8 million of the country’s most vulnerable and food-insecure people, including specialized nutritional support for new mothers and children under the age of five. It will assist about 800,000 refugees and IDPs, as well as returnees and poor families in highly food-insecure areas. WFP also supports programs that address the root causes of hunger, such as infrastructure projects that help the most food-insecure communities increase their agricultural productivity and prepare themselves better to cope with disasters such as floods.

WFP has appealed for US $354 million through the CAP process for its food and nutrition assistance operations in South Sudan this year. 

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