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Agricultural Development: A Valuable Tool for Peacebuilding in Conflict Countries

David Miller, South Sudan FARM Projects Director, 2010–2016

White Paper

July 7, 2017

This white paper, presented on the sixth anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, explores the transformational power of agriculture in the most fragile and bleak environments. It argues that agricultural development is a critical intervention for building healthy societies and establishing sustainable peace in the most conflict-prone countries. It encourages donors to initiate this type of assistance as soon as a modicum of stability is established. Otherwise, valuable time is lost as markets further collapse and the plight of smallholder farmers worsen.

This paper suggests that agricultural development — because it directly addresses the fundamental causes of modern conflict — should not solely be a post-conflict activity but rather take place before and sometimes during conflict. Abt Associates has been on the front lines of this issue as USAID's implementer for the Food, Agribusiness, and Rural Markets (FARM) projects in South Sudan from 2010 to 2016. This paper presents our experiences during those projects and shares the lessons we learned from working with thousands of farmers and hundreds of communities as we strove to introduce an alternative to conflict in the young and struggling nation of South Sudan.