JUBA – Farmers in different parts of South Sudan are expected to take fight against hunger in the world’s youngest country to another level after a non-governmental continental organization launched a farming initiative to help them realize their dreams.
In a statement extended to Sudans Post, ForAfrika, one of the largest African NGOs working – among others – to eradicate poverty among families and improve self-reliance, said it launched the initiative in 2016 and farmers are expected this year to harvest crops and vegetables.
“Small-scale farmers in South Sudan, working with Africa’s largest non-governmental organisation ForAfrika, are poised to harvest vegetables and cereal crops planted across a record 6 700 hectares (67 000km2),” the organization said in the statement released on Thursday.
ForAfrika’s CEO Isak Pretorius said the non-profit group launched the program as millions in the world’s youngest country face starvation that is to be blamed on climate change and the conflict which has created conditions that do not allow local farmers to do their work.
“ForAfrika launched this farming programme in 2016 in a bid to improve food security and eradicate reliance on aid, and has worked with between 8,000 and 10,000 households each year since then,” Abeba Amene, the NGO’s country director for South Sudan, said. “There is an average of six people per household.”
Amene further revealed that the group in 2022 is collaborating with at least 10,000 farming households that are new to the NGO’s programme and the aim “is to support food-insecure households so that they gain food security first, and in the long run they are able to sell their surplus and earn an income.”
ForAfrika assists farmers with seeds, equipment and training in how to grow, harvest and store food crops. Crop farming is fairly new to South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011 to become Africa’s newest country.
“Traditionally the country’s citizens were hunters, fishers and livestock farmers,” says Mulugeta Berhanuu, ForAfrika’s food security and livelihoods manager for South Sudan.
Farming in South Sudan is complicated by increased flooding, which has engulfed land that used to escape the annual rising of the country’s rivers.
While annual flooding is to be expected in parts of South Sudan, through which the Nile River flows and where Africa’s largest marshland, the Sudd, is located, the past three years have suffered rainy seasons that have surpassed records.
“These floods have been linked to climate change, as have the dry seasons’ droughts,” Amene said.
“Seven years of working with thousands of South Sudanese farmers have taught ForAfrika’s team in the country what crops and crop varieties work well in which regions, and led to the introduction of rice, cassava and sweet potato crops in flood-prone areas,” she stressed.
“The continental organization is also working with 3,000 young people to build dykes that can hold back floodwaters as approximately 800 000 people have been displaced by floods this year,” she said, stressing that “dykes can safeguard homes and community assets such as schools and clinics, and in some cases have led to people being able to return to their homes after two years of being away because of flooding.”
Berhanu added that, without prompting from ForAfrika, communities that have benefited from farming training have passed their knowledge on to other communities.
“They did that without us, and that is what we want to see,” he says.
“In addition to the dykes, ForAfrika is working with communities to construct access roads so that surplus produce can be transported to markets,” Amene said.
“Again, the organisation worked with young people from local communities, and this has dual benefits – it increases community access to markets and it takes young people away from areas in which they might become embroiled in conflict.”
“The crises in South Sudan are many,” says added, “but there are rays of hope.”