South SudanSouth Sudan officially known as the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country in east/central Africa. It gained independence from Sudan in 2011, making it the most recent sovereign state or country with widespread recognition as of 2022. South Sudan’s capital is Juba.
South Sudan is bounded on the north by Sudan; on the east by Ethiopia; on the south by Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and on the west by the Central African Republic.
The Nile River system is the dominant physical feature, and all streams and rivers of South Sudan drain either into or toward the Nile. The White Nile (Baḥr Al-Abyaḍ) enters the country as the Mountain Nile (Baḥr Al-Jabal) from the south through rapids at Nimule on the Uganda border.
South Sudan experiences a tropical climate. Temperature averages are normally above 25°C, with highs exceeding 35°C, particularly during the dry season (January to April). The rainy season differs by location, but it generally occurs between April and November. The lowland areas of Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, the Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal receive annual rainfall between 700 and 1,300 mm. The south-eastern tip of Eastern Equatoria receives about 200 mm. The heaviest rainfall occurs in the southern upland areas and lessens towards the north. Western Equatoria and highland parts of Eastern Equatoria receive between 1,200 and 2,200 mm of rainfall annually.
The soils of South Sudan are heterogeneous and require different regimes of managements and fertilizer application. Most soils of South Sudan are moderately fertile but in the absence of soil amendments and appropriate cultural practices, the soil will rapidly lose the nutritional balance
required for efficient and sustainable for crop production.
Agriculture in South Sudan largely remains at subsistence level with average field sizes of two feddans/acres per household, crop yields being very low: hardly one ton per feddan/acre due to use of poor quality seeds, tools and agronomic practices. The same applies to the livestock and fisheries sectors. About 80% of the population lives in rural areas, with agriculture, forestry and fisheries providing the primary livelihood for a majority of the households in state .
Agriculture is predominantly rainfed with the level of annual rainfall rising from north to south and from east to west.
While the country produces and consumes a wide range of agricultural commodities, with the passage of time some commodities have become prominent in the national pattern of consumption. Cereals, primarily sorghum and maize, millet and rice are the dominant staple crops in South Sudan.
Sorghum is the main crop cultivated with a wide range of local landraces. It is the main staple food in all states, except for the three Equatorias where the local diet is also based on maize flour (largely imported from Uganda) and cassava (mainly in the Green Belt). In Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Lakes, sorghum is often intercropped with sesame and millet.
Sorghum is a warm weather indigenous crop that is resilient to harsh, drier environments. Farmers grow traditional and improved varieties. Traditional varieties are more readily available through informal seed networks, have a long growing season, produce taller plants, but have a relatively low yield. They remain popular because of seed availability and consumer preferences for texture and taste. Improved varieties are early maturing, high-yielding, input responsive, and drought resistant, and there are now open-pollinated hybrids available in the market as early maturing varieties; however, they increase the cost of production because they need more inputs. Sorghum must be stored in threshed form to lessen the risk from pests. Hard grain varieties store better and longer than soft-grain varieties. Traditionally sorghum is stored in mud-plastered bins and improved storage options are not readily available. About 30 percent of local sorghum is sold commercially—e.g., to breweries, institutions, and individuals. South Sudan also imports sorghum from Sudan and the import parity prices imputed from the prices in Kadugli, a border town in Sudan, are much lower than in the major markets in South Sudan.
Maize is normally cultivated in limited areas, close to homesteads and often used for green consumption. In some locations such as Upper Nile, maize is cultivated in larger plots, instead of sorghum, provided the soil is suitable. Minor cereal crops such as bulrush millet, finger millet and upland rice are also cultivated in certain locations. Groundnut is cultivated on sandy soils in most locations and makes an important contribution to the household diet. It is the main cash crop which contributes to farming household income at certain periods of the year. In parts of Central and Western Equatoria, sweet potato, yam, coffee, mango and papaya are commonly grown. Okra, cowpea, green- gram, pumpkin and tobacco are also widely grown around homesteads. Vegetables such as onions or tomatoes are not commonly grown in rural areas, but are increasingly cultivated near cities to supply urban markets. The hilly and mountainous zone is suitable for cultivating tea, coffee, temperate fruits (apples and grapes), forest plantations and wheat are well suited for Hills and Mountain Zone. The pastoral zone is ideally favourable for cultivating gum acacia.
South Sudan ranks 5th in the world for area harvested to sesame seeds, but it ranks 64th in the world for yield due to difficulties along the value chain, especially in production. Farmers use few inputs, little mechanization, and grow under rainfed conditions in traditional and semi-mechanized systems. Most sesame fields (about 80 percent) are 2 hectares and farmers broadcast seeds rather than planting in rows. This makes the rest of production and harvesting more difficult—weeding, harvesting, drying, and threshing are done manually.
South Sudan has immense potential for production of edible sunflower seeds and oil. The residue left after oil processing is used as a feed for animals, and value-added products—such as sunflower butter, nutrition bars that include sunflower.
Cowpea is grown in most of South Sudan by smallholder farmers mostly women—as a subsistence crop under rain-fed conditions. Cowpea is drought resistant and less vulnerable to pests if properly managed at cultivation. It can be consumed at different stages (young shoots,
young leaves, young pods, immature seeds, mature seeds and sprouts) and is an important source of protein in daily diets
Livestock in South Sudan
Livestock production represents a significant proportion of agricultural activity in South Sudan. Th e main populations of livestock are cattle, goats, sheep and poultry: the main products are meat, dairy products, hides and skin and eggs. Livestock production, especially cattle, is undertaken in the more arid and semi-arid zones such as East Equatoria. Livestock systems are either nomadic pastoralist or mixed crop-livestock systems and are a major source of livelihoods, especially in the floodplains and the semi-arid pastoral areas.
According to these estimates there are almost 12 million cattle, 14 million goats and 13 million sheep in the country. This population is equivalent to about 2.6 animals per hectare of grassland in South Sudan as a whole and 1 animal per hectare of grassland and savannah. These population densities per hectare are relatively high.
Forestry in South Sudan
Forests and woodlands make up nearly a third of South Sudan’s land area, and 20% of the country’s land is designated as forest reserves. Forest timber and non-timber resources are used for food, timber, firewood and habitat and supply 80% of the county’s energy. In addition, forests provide the country with economic opportunities. South Sudan formally and informally exports a wide range of timber products to international markets; however, the sector is poorly managed, and reliable numbers quantifying exports and economic potential do not exist. Many non-timber forest products such as shea nuts, gum arabic and honey are harvested for local consumption. There is growing international demand for non-timber products, in particular shea nuts and gum arabic.
Forests types in South Sudan can be categorized as either natural forests or plantation forest. Natural Forests: The natural forests of the Equatorias are characterized by a mixture of Congolean forest species (Albizzia sp. and Etandrophragma sp.) and fire climax species such as Acacia sp., Afzelia sp., Anogeissus, Balanites aegyptica, Brachystegia sp., Combretum sp., Dalbergia melanoxylon, Isoberlina doka, Khaya senegalensis, Tamarindus indica, Sclerocarya birrea and Vitellaria paradoxa etc. Plantations: In stark contrast to the high diversity of the natural forests, the plantation forests are dominated by a single non-indigenous species of teak (Tectona grandis), which was first introduced as early as 1919. Teak makes up roughly 2-3 per cent of South Sudan’s overall forest estate and yet has an extremely important role in generating revenue. With most mahogany resources being sold cheaply to an internal market, teak represents a key asset for generating revenue from exportation with rising global demand.
Fisheries in South Sudan
Livelihoods in Upper Nile State have traditionally revolved around agro-pastoral activities. The fishery sector is most often a secondary source of livelihood, undertaken by the populations along the Sobat and Nile rivers corridors as a buffer against the effects of harvest failures, agricultural product price volatility and other factors that threaten rural stability, economic development and food security.
South Sudan has vast wetland area measuring over 29,000 km², with an additional 26,000 km² during the rainy season. The wetland area between the communities of Bor and Malakal, known as the Sudd swamps, host over 100 species of fish. Formed by the White Nile, the Sudd swamps cover roughly 15 percent of the total area of South Sudan. The potential for fish harvest in the swamps is estimated at 75,000 tonnes per year – and possibly up to 140,000 tonnes per year – and around 220,000 for South Sudan in total; however, current reported fish landings are estimated at between 30,000 and 40,000 tonnes per year.
In total, about 115 different species of fish are found in the Nile basin most of which are of economic importance. The most important species are Tilapia, Nile Perch, Gymnarchus niloticus, Heterotus niloticus, Synodontis, Lates nilotica, Alestes, Hyrocynus, Labeo, Barbus, Distichodus, Citharinus,
Clarias, Protopterus, Mormyrus, Bagrus, Shilbe, Heterobranchus, Heterotis, Polyterus, Gnathonemus, Marcusenius, Petrocephalus, Hyperropisus, Eutropius, Malapterurus, Clatrotes, Tetradon, Auchionoglans, Chrychythis.
The region around the confluence of the Sobat River and the While Nile provide another plentiful source of fish. In the Nile and Sobat river zones, fishing is an important, but not the primary, source of food and livelihood. Fishing is done mainly when there is a break in prominent income-generating activities such as crop cultivation and cattle rearing.
Fishing as a livelihood is greatly influence by the dry and wet seasons. In the wet season – May to October in Upper Nile State – rural peoples practice mainly agriculture and livestock production. In the dry season, as the water levels recede, fish harvesting plays a greater role in income generation. This is reflected by the abundance of fish in the marketplace in Malakal during this period – October to April. The price for fish in the market drops during this period. The rainy season from May to October sees a drop in fish harvests as higher water volumes make fishing less effective and
transport more difficult. In the Upper Nile State, road transport during the rainy seasons is extremely limited, leaving almost all travel to be done by water transport, such as riverboats.