This Tuesday, IFPRI hosted the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of the world’s newest nation: the Republic of South Sudan.
H.E. Dr. Betty Ochan Ogwaro described the great potential that South Sudan holds for increasing food security for its people and neighboring nations, as well as for economic growth more broadly, and encouraged partners from both private and public sectors to help the country reach it.
A nation with a wealth of unexploited arable land, South Sudan has a high productive potential, but also faces heavy challenges to developing that potential. Foremost among them are a lack of infrastructure, particularly roads; a lack of foreign investment in agriculture; and a lack of national research institutions.
A formidable presence in South Sudanese politics, Dr. Ogwaro is also a leader for women’s rights in her country, and one of the key negotiators of a constitutional right for 25 percent representation of women at all levels of government – and that’s just the beginning. “Now we are no longer talking of 25 percent,” she told the audience. “We are now talking of 50-50, so that we share equally in development.”
The minister emphasized the “crucially important” role of women in agriculture in South Sudan, where 60 percent of the rural population are women who “till the land, grow crops, reap, harvest, store, and feed the family.”
“Our policy in the Ministry of Agriculture…is that women are part and parcel of the development of agricultural production,“ she noted.
Dr. Ogwaro also mentioned the need to encourage women to pursue research careers in higher education.