FAO in South Sudan

FAO Livestock Show and Agricultural Exhibition to promote food security


Thanks to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations (FAO) organized a two-day livestock show and agricultural exhibition in Torit to promote animal production and food security. The event that was held in Torit from 14 and 15 January brought together livestock owners rearing cattle, goats and sheep to compete on the basis of good husbandry and other cultural aspects displayed by their animals in the race. This was the third livestock show of its kind in South Sudan following the first and second events FAO organized last year in Rumbek and Wau.

The Livestock Show and Agricultural Exhibition also brought together government officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN agencies and donor representatives from USAID, the European Union (EU), and the Embassies of China, France, Germany and Norway, to witness agricultural practices by the local communities. Livestock keepers assembled in Torit, which welcomed a total of 667 livestock including 140 cattle, 130 sheep and 397 goats for the show. The competition was organized under three livestock categories of cattle, goats and sheep.

South Sudan is one of the richest countries in livestock wealth per capita in Africa, boasting more than 40 million livestock: 12 million cattle, 12.1 million sheep and 12.4 million goats. Livestock is the backbone of socio-economic status of most communities in South Sudan who keep them as part of the cultural heritage, wealth and prestige. However, the contribution of this rich livestock wealth to the economy is estimated at a dwindling 3 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) due to inadequate commercialization and marketing. With lack of knowledge and limited opportunities for livestock marketing, local communities are unable to realize the actual financial value of their animal wealth – reducing livestock to use for family subsistence and payment for hefty bride prices.

Through these livestock shows being organized around the country, FAO is creating awareness for the livestock keepers to realize the economic value of their animals and encourage better practices on animal husbandry for healthy livestock. The competition provided incentives for those with healthy and fit animals that have been well looked after in addition to other cultural values on the animals. This will empower local communities to earn better financial benefits from livestock instead of keeping them for prestige and expensive traditional marriages which often lead to cattle raiding.
Addressing the event on 14 January, Meshack Malo, FAO Representative in South Sudan, said Torit has a considerable livestock population in South Sudan that needs to be put into commercialization to improve livestock productivity.

“We are talking about the population of livestock, which is about 10.1 million. This is a huge number that if we work together, it can contribute significantly to commercialization and to moving this area [livestock sector] into a trade,” said Mr Malo. He also added that FAO and partners are committed towards investing in livestock sector in the country as a way of improving pastoralists’ livelihoods and to contribute significantly to the economic growth of the country.

Leslie Reed, Mission Director for USAID in South Sudan, acknowledged that livestock can contribute to enhancing the young nation’s economic viability as a tool to fight for food security.

“Livestock can be an essential part of building resilience so that the South Sudanese families can remain stable and productive even if faced with the current crisis,” said Reed, Mission Director for USAID in South Sudan. “Once there is a lasting peace and stability in South Sudan, this wealth of livestock has the potential to provide the economic growth that could uplift this country as a whole,” she added.

Torit governor TabioloAlberio Oromo said South Sudan is rich in resources but require building of skills among citizens to learn how to manage those resources. “This country is rich but our minds are still poor. What is needed of us is to get skills on how to rear our livestock and how to market them. They are very important for us; one goat can pay the school fees of one child. If you have five children you need to sell five goats every year so that they can go to school”, said TabioloAlberio, governor of Torit State.

The goal of the livestock show is to draw attention on livestock health and productivity and to teach communities to ensure their animals produce quality meat, milk, skins and offspring which ultimately improve household and community resilience and food security.