In a bid to learn how to revive its weak cooperatives sector, South Sudan has sought to borrow lessons from Kenya's robust sector.
To achieve that end, the Ministries of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and Co-operatives and Micro, Small And Medium Enterprises Development is working with Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) South Sudan to strengthen South Sudan's cooperative movement.
As part of the project, a team from South Sudan visited the State Department for Cooperatives recently and were taken through how the cooperatives work in Kenya, specifically their registration, policy guidelines and regulations.
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The team also visited Githunguri Dairy Cooperative and held a meeting with the CEO Mr Fred Muriithi afterwhich they toured the milk processing plant in Kiambu County.
To gain a first-hand experience with farmer groups they also visited Gatundu South Fish Farmers Cooperative where they interacted with the County Government officials and farmers.
“It has been a great learning opportunity for us from South Sudan. We are optimistic that we shall move much faster having learned the lessons in Kenya’s vibrant cooperatives sector. As you have rightfully observed South Sudan has a wealth of agricultural resources and with good cooperative movement, we shall make it,” said Prof. Mathew Udo, Undersecretary Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security South Sudan.
The participants included senior national government officials and cooperative development officers drawn from 13 State in South Sudan.
Though agriculture is an important sector in South Sudan, coming second after oil, it is yet to be optimally utilised. This has in part been attributed to a weak cooperative movement in a country where many farmers are small holders.
Despite the enormous benefits of the agricultural sector in offering employment opportunities for the farming communities, the sector continues to face significant challenges.
These include lack of access to affordable user-friendly technologies and weak cooperative unions.
FAO South Sudan is implementing the Agricultural Markets, Value Addition and Trade Development project funded by the Africa Development Bank, and the Resilient Agricultural Livelihoods Project funded by the World Bank. These two projects funded the exchange visit.
“Through these projects we are working to integrate technology in agriculture, increase access to financial facilities to increase productivity. This knowledge exchange visit to Kenya has served to help us appreciate the potent of cooperative movement and we want to replicate the good lessons back home,” said Meshack Malo the FAO South Sudan Representative.