JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN —
Twenty young South Sudanese who want to help shape national policy on agriculture presented ideas to government officials this week on how to help farmers boost output and cut food insecurity.
At a forum aimed at increasing the involvement of youth in government, Bazia Justin told the Minister of Agriculture, Betty Achan Ogwaro, and other agriculture experts, that the government and private sector must redouble efforts to win the fight against food insecurity.
"Our farmers need financial assistance to purchase tools, machines, supplies, other equipment and technical support. We appeal to the private sector and banks to provide more flexible and accessible micro credit to farmers and encourage the government to act as a guarantor when needed,” Justin said.
Ogwaro, meanwhile, said South Sudan's youth have not been active enough in farming.
The participants at the workshop said they hope to change that. Once they are finished with the workshop, they will return to their homes and present their recommendations to local groups, including their peers.
Fareed Musa Fataki, a representative from CMI Marti Ahtissari Centre, a local NGO focusing on conflict resolution that organized the workshop, said it was important to involve youth in nation-building.
“According to the last census they are the majority of the community in South Sudan. Leaving them out will be leaving [out] a very big chunk of the community," he said.
A survey conducted by CMI in South Sudan’s 10 states found that youth have very low involvement in making decisions about issues that affect them. CMI created the forum to allow youth to interact with decision-makers.
At each meeting, a senior government official is invited to meet with young people to discuss issues ranging from corruption to agriculture, food security and South Sudanese national identity.