KHARTOUM — After decades of promoting food security in Sudan, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) recently formalized their partnership, strengthening their capacity to assist smallholder farmers.
As one of the most complex and multidimensional humanitarian emergencies today, Sudan faces recurrent conflict in several states, including Darfur and Blue Nile. These conflicts have resulted in the displacements of tens of thousands of Sudanese, creating political and economic instability throughout the nation.
The African nation also suffers from high levels of malnutrition, food insecurity, and deep-seated poverty. In 2013, the Human Development Index ranked Sudan as 166 out of 187 countries. That same year, the Global Hunger Index found Sudan to be the fifth most food insecure country in the world.
In 2011, the secession of South Sudan resulted in a devastating loss of agricultural land in Sudan. According to the World Bank, Sudan’s food production index had risen steadily through the end of the twentieth century, but has destabilized in the last decade.
Sudan experienced below average agricultural production in 2015 across six states, with cereal production 25 percent lower than the most recent five-year average. This is attributed not only to regional conflict and instability, but also to the effects of El Niño weather patterns.
The new WFP and IFAD partnership aims to enhance agricultural production through focusing on smallholder farmers. The two agencies will promote food security in Sudan through providing improved seeds, training farmers on improved methods to minimize post-harvest losses and educating farmers about agricultural credit.
Strengthening resilience to climate change is also a focus of the new partnership. By improving climate policy and monitoring climate impact on smallholder farmers, IFAD and WFP will assist agricultural communities to adapt to varying climate patterns.
The two organizations have been working in the nation for decades, implementing programs to increase smallholder farmers’ access to markets. In 2010, WFP initiated the Farmers to Market (F2M) Program, teaming up with the Central Bank of Sudan and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. Through this program, WFP has assisted over 45,000 smallholder farmers, helping them to increase agricultural production and become self-sufficient.
IFAD has also been greatly invested in Sudan’s agricultural output in recent decades. Since 1979, IFAD has contributed $257 million, implementing 20 programs to promote food security in Sudan. Their projects reach 731 communities suffering from food insecurity across the nation.
In response to the new partnership, the head of WFP’s Sudan Operation, Marco Cavalcante, stated, “We fully expect that this collaboration will strengthen our ongoing efforts to promote resilience and self-reliance among the vulnerable communities that we support.”
– Anna O’Toole