SOUTH SUDAN – Small farmers in South Sudan are taking steps towards meeting global food standards, joining cooperatives and undergoing trainings in everything from safety to climate-resilient farming techniques.

This is through the International Trade Centre’s South Sudan: Jobs Creation and Trade Development project which aims to increase the competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and employment opportunities for the South Sudanese population engaged in the fruit and vegetable subsector.

During the first half of 2022, the project focused on fruit and vegetable farmers growing everything from spinach to chilies to citrus.

The European Union-funded project contributes to addressing the value addition, competitiveness, job creation and trade development challenges of South Sudan.

Specifically, the interventions of the project are expected to improve productive capacities and compliance to standards for MSMEs, increase their market linkages.

By July 2022, Bul John Ajak, Officer for Productivity Capacity and Job Creation at International Trade Centre (ITC) said, 894 small farmers formed 22 cooperatives, under the EU-funded project. Nearly half the farmers are women.

“Previously there were no cooperatives for fruit and vegetables, only for cereals or other crops. Now these new cooperatives have received training in good management and governance. For those that have completed their registration with the government, they now have a path to loans and credit,” he said.

In addition to learning about managing their cooperatives, about 200 farmers in Central Equatoria state received further training from 31 March to 10 April on how to handle their crops after harvest. That included steps from grading and packing to transportation for final delivery to consumers.

In June and July, 445 farmers learned about water and soil conservation, organic practices for fighting pests, and nursery bed management.

The trainings included farmers at all ten of the project’s locations, including Gondokoro, Jebe Lado, Juba Na Bari, Kator, Kworijik, Lokiliri, Luri and Rejaf in Central Equatoria State; and Yambio and Anzara in Western Equatoria State.

While those trainings aimed to increase farmers’ harvests, another series worked to ensure that small businesses meet global standards.

In collaboration with the South Sudan National Bureau of Standards, ITC organised a five-day workshop in July to mentor trainers how to implement quality management systems.

“The content of the training was awesome, from manufacturing through inspection and testing, packaging and shipping,” said Kenyi John Michael Awuda, of Industrial Compliance and Safety Consultancy Limited.

The 26 trainers in this workshop had previously received training on food quality and safety in September last year, according to African Business.

The training lead Kuorwel Kuai Kuorwel informed that the latest workshop detailed how to formalise those processes in line with the most popular global standards.

“The idea was to train them to make them advisers to fruit and vegetable producers. Now that they have learned how to do this, they should be able to advise the businesses on quality standards.

“The cooperatives currently serve the local market, but when their goods meet quality standards, they should be able to serve regional and even international markets,” he said.

After that workshop, the ITC led another five-day session on good practices for developing and promoting standards, and for elaboration and enforcement of technical regulations for 27 officers from South Sudan National Bureau of Standards and technical regulatory bodies.

The group pulled from an impressive roster of organizations, including six government ministries, the University of Juba, the Drug and Food Control Authority, and Consumer Protection Association.

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