From Business Week, writer Alan Boswell fills in the details on the announcement.
The U.S. started a $55 million program in Southern Sudan mainly to help improve the ability of small farmers to grow staple crops, the U.S. Agency for International Development said.
The five-year initiative, called the Food, Agribusiness, and Rural Markets (FARM) program, will focus on the Equatoria region, where agricultural production is seen to have the greatest potential, USAID said today in a statement released in Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan.
“Agriculture is the backbone of the economic development in southern Sudan, employing the majority of the population of more than 8 million, 80 percent of whom live in rural areas,” according to a USAID statement.
Southern Sudan, which depends on oil for 98 percent of government revenue, is due to hold a referendum in January to decide whether to secede from the rest of the country. The vote is part of a 2005 peace agreement that ended a 21-year war between north and south Sudan. As many as 2 million people died in the conflict.
Oil fields in Southern Sudan account for most of the nation’s oil output, which, at 480,000 barrels a day, is the third-biggest in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy.
USAID plans to increase its presence in Southern Sudan, the agency’s administrator, Rajiv Shah, said today in an interview in Juba.