Juba, Nov 20 (IANS) The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) launched the first-ever innovative programme to foster locally-driven solutions to tackle food systems challenges in food-insecure South Sudan.
Matthew Hollingworth, WFP country representative, on Friday said they are targeting South Sudanese entrepreneurs to innovate ideas with support from WFP IGNITE Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa aimed at providing solutions to improve food security.
About 760,000 South Sudanese have been affected by floods that have caused havoc in the country, Xinhua news agency reported.
A recent report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN and the WFP says that the deficit in South Sudan's cereal production is estimated at an all-time high of 465,600 tons in 2021.
IGNITE Food Systems Challenge will issue a call for applications starting on November 19 with support from the United Nations Development Programme. The application will be hosted on vc4a.com and will accept submissions until December 15.
"The programme seeks start-ups with innovations tackling hunger, improving food security, or strengthening regional food systems. Selected enterprises will receive technical support, training, and mentorship and have an opportunity to receive grant funding of up to 100,000 U.S. dollars," said a statement issued by WFP.
It added that this contribution comes at a time of worsening food insecurity in Eastern Africa due to the compounding effects of rising conflict, climate change, natural disasters like drought and floods, locusts, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meshack Malo, FAO country representative, said the locally innovative ideas will go a long way in helping South Sudan reduce food dependency on humanitarian agencies and neighboring countries.
"Last year, South Sudan was only able to utilise 4 per cent of its arable land, so the challenge begins from there. There are many other areas such as marketing, insurance, and plant production and protection. We want to see innovations in using various technological aspects in order to understand our food security system," said Malo.
WFP IGNITE Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa was launched in December 2020 to leverage WFP's brand, public and private partners, deep field access, and expertise to develop, nurture and scale sustainable innovation for increased food security in the region.