A minister from South Sudan becomes a student of the University of Pretoria
By Sanku Tsunke
Posted on 11 May 2012
Minister Michael Roberto Kenyi Legge (right) with his study leader, Prof Sheryl Hendriks, from the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development.
The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry from the Central Equatorial State (CES) in the Government of South Sudan, Honourable Minister Michael Roberto Kenyi Legge, has enrolled for a PhD in Food Security at the University of Pretoria and the object of his proposed study will be to evaluate the impact of food and agricultural policies on household food security and nutrition in his state (CES).
Minister Kenyi graduated last year with a Master of Science in Food Security at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. His thesis was on “Agricultural Development and Food Security in Post-conflict South Sudan”.
Minister Kenyi’s primary function is to provide planning and to ensure policy coordination and implementation in his ministry. He is also responsible for maintaining institutional relations with the international developmental communities, such as the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and United States Aid for International Development, on matters relating to productivity and the effective use of resources.
Food and nutrition security remain the most fundamental challenges in Central Equatorial State (CES) in South Sudan to the achievement of people’s general well-being and the economic growth of communities. Because of food shortages and grinding poverty, few people have access to adequate food supplies, and few are capable of utilising food effectively. For the last two decades, food and nutrition insecurity has been caused by a combination of factors, such as the disastrous effects of war, coupled with prolonged droughts and floods caused by climate instability.
With the Republic of South Sudan having emerged from war [note that hostilities are far from over because of border disputes centering on matters concerning oil, as well as the persistent underlying religious antipathy that led to secession in the first place], Minister Kenyi acknowledged that some of the links between the CES and international developmental communities are still fragile, but that his state authorities were striving to strengthen these ties and were also partnering with other countries like South Africa. “Institutional setup in South Sudan still requires support in capacity building and the University of Pretoria can also be useful in helping us in institutional development and linkages within the country and with foreign countries like South Africa,” said Minister Kenyi.
The University of Pretoria interacted with the government of Sudan last year in June, shortly before the Republic of South Sudan attained its independence on 09 July 2011. Professor Cheryl de la Rey, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, met with the Sudanese Minister of Animal Resources and Fisheries, Minister Fidel Hassan Ibrahim and his delegates to explore avenues for training and for scientific research, collaboration and exchange of expert visits with regard to animal and agricultural sciences.
Minister Kenyi said that despite its newly acquired sovereignty, the Republic of South Sudan would sustain its pre-independence ties with the University of Pretoria as initiated by the Government of North Sudan, and that he would personally engage the national Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries in South Sudan to explore opportunities with the University of Pretoria to promote training, extension and exchange, as well as production techniques and research, all of which are currently non-existent in South Sudan.