Alula Berhe Kidani
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is one of the main focus areas of Sudan Vision (SV). In affirmation of this vision, SV was among the few media outlets in Africa and the world which have endorsed the call of the United Nations to join the UN SDG Media Compact that was launched on Sept.2018 on the eve of the annual meetings of the UN General Assembly.
In this context, Sudan Vision invited the FAO Sudan Representative Mr. Babagana Ahmadu and the State Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture Nahar Osman Nahar to brief the media on the role of the agricultural sector on the implementation of the SDGs in Sudan.
Sudan Vision General Manager Ms. Sahar Albushra in a welcoming address said, “It is a great pleasure to welcome our distinguished guests in Sudan Vision.
Today’s issue is very important because agriculture is the backbone of any sustainable development and Sudan represent the real hope to play a very positive role in this sector, to attain the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), Food Security and End Hunger by 2030.
At the same time would like to highly commend the strong cooperation between the FAO and our newspaper and we promise to make available whatever is needed to raise awareness among the public about this vital issue. This forum represents the kick for a very long fruitful cooperation. So, thank you very much Mr. Babagana for giving us this opportunity.
And further the same gratitude is extended to the Ministry of Agriculture of course which has always been cooperative and reliable source of information to our journalists”.
In response, the FAO Sudan Representative Mr. Babagana Ahmadu stated that; “We feel greatly honored by the invitation of Sudan Vision which has always been a creditable and reliable partner in communicating with the public and the general stakeholders in Sudan”.
Then he added; that it is a real pleasure visiting your offices to interact with you and your team on the work of FAO and how we see the role of agriculture in Sudan in particular and Africa in general; and also exchange view and information on our role on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As you are aware FAO has been in this country for about Four decades and has been working very closely and supporting the government in the various aspects of the development work especially in the agricultural sector which includes also the livestock, fishery and forestry sectors.
Also, the FOA representative pointed out that they are working together very closely with the Ministries of Agricultural, Environment and previously the International Cooperation in supporting the government addressing the challenges facing the agricultural sector and for the sustainable management of natural resources.
As a team we also we work within the framework of the UN Country Team (NCT) with all the UN agencies here for the purpose of coordinating and interacting between ourselves and position ourselves on how best we can support the government.
So, I am very happy to be here to listen to whatever questions you may have on what the FAO in Sudan and in particular in the agricultural sector is doing.
Q: Can we have first an overview of FAO program in Sudan?
A: FAO since the beginning of 2017 have agreed with the government to make FAO more focused in certain key areas that we think can generate the desired outcomes.
So, we consulted broadly with the governmental sectoral ministries, and other relevant stakeholders working within the mandate of FAO and we agreed on certain key priority areas that spell the scope of our interventions for the next Four years.
We agreed on a country programme with the government focusing on four key areas.
One, the area of development of an enabling policies to insure that the right policies are in place, to insure that policies that are out-dated have been renewed, to insure that the right framework for action to address challenges are in place, that is the number One priority.
As you know the FAO has huge expertise in these areas. We have been in existence for many decades, gathered a lot of good practices and lessons learned on these areas. Know what worked well and know what cannot work in situation in countries like Sudan. We generated a lot of good lessons that we are ready to share this with Sudan. This is the first framework priority area of developing enabling policies.
Our second priority area within the country framework is promoting sustainable agricultural development. That is sustainable management of the natural resources.
This is very important because natural resources as you know are under great pressure, and diminishing in scope and distribution because we managed them un-sustainably. And when I took about natural resources it is about the environment in general; that we need to guard joylessly and manage sustainably.
As you Sudan is one of the countries that are highly vulnerable to climate change. The soil we are using for farming is diminishing in terms of quality that is in terms of the ability of the soil to support productive farming. So, promoting sustainable management of natural resources is one of the key areas we are working on with the government.
The third important priority area that we have agreed on with the government to work on for the next four years is Disaster Risk Management. Threats and associated risks that are very prominent in Sudan due to the impact of climate change. So how to make the population resilient to this forms of threats and disasters.
These three pillars constitute the major work of FAO in Sudan and will continue to do so up to 2020; because these are the priority areas of the government. There are critical technical gaps within the government institutions and therefore called for our support in these here areas; enabling policies, institutional environment, food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture including crops, livestock and fishery, and national resources management. These will be the key area of our work during the period from 2017 to 2020.
As, I said earlier, we have gathered a very good international best practices which are at the disposal of the country. The representative office here in Sudan has access to experts and technicians in our Head Office and also in our sub-regional offices in all over Africa. So, we call upon the government to take advantage of them in addressing them of the technical needs in the country.
In the area of promoting innovating practices, we see seeds production system as a value added. As you are aware because of the impact of climate change, we need to adapt.
So, in agriculture and farming the quality of the seeds that is used matter a lot. So, the need for a good quality seeds system that insures that the rights seeds are available at the right time and in the required quantity and quality. We insure this vide training the research institutions and the farmers to produce and use seeds that are tolerant draught and the quality of the soil that we have.
Q: Are these seeds genetically modified?
A: No, they are not genetically modified seeds, they are just seeds grown to adapt to the local situation. For example, in Nyala, we are cooperating with other partners to produce certified quality seeds.
Nutrition is a very important subject and if you look at the statistics there is significant prevalence and incidents of insufficient nutrition. So, we do some nutrition sensitive interventions by prompting diet diversification through multi-agricultural products which is one of our main approaches to combat malnutrition. We promote backyard gardening and school gardening in order to make sure that nutrition is locally available. We promote women groups vegetable farming; and indigenous foods especially in Sudan are very rich in macronutrient and so we make sure that people have excess to good quality seeds. So, we provide training for women groups and farmers organizations in some communities and localities to adapt to vegetable gardening as one source of improving their nutrition and in particular in the areas were we operate in East Sudan and Darfur regions.
We are doing that in collaboration with major agencies and as well with the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Q: There is also a National Plan with some UN Agencies to address this issue on nutrition?
A: Yeas, that is right and we operate jointly and have joint programmes of interventions with the WFP and UNICEF to address the issue of malnutrition in Sudan. As I said earlier the sustainable management of the natural resources is very important and we see water and the soil as the key when it comes to agriculture.
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