Natale Zingisi,47, is a farmer in Ngindo Boma, Yambio County of South Sudan. He owns 15 fedans (one fedan is equivalent to 1. 038 acres) where he plants maize both for sale and home consumption.
When conflict broke out in the country, many people were displaced as their homes were burnt down. Others fled to neighboring countries for fear of attacks.
However, Zingisi decided to stay home and could only ask around what was happening. He continued with his cultivation though not very productive as he did not have skills on proper agricultural practices.
Following the conflict, the country faced an emergency level of food insecurity. According to a report by the Integrated Food Security phase Classification (IPC) up to 3.5 million people (30 per cent of the total population) is in crisis or emergency food insecurity phases. Humanitarian assistance has since reached up to 3.1 million people.
Zingisi was one of the beneficiaries of the humanitarian assistance through the Emergency Food Crisis Project (EFCRP) being implemented by Action Africa Help South Sudan in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture with funding from the World Bank.
In 2001, he was among farmers who received training in good agricultural practices which included planting in rows, high yield and long term seeds that are easy to weed. He also received farm tools.
“Before I was trained on good farming activities, I used to get only 700kgs of maize per fedans but after the training I now get between 900 to 1,000 kilogrammes per fedans,” Zingisi proudly says adding that “the training has turned around my life for the better.”
With the profits, he has managed to pay school fees for his children, bought a motor cycle for transporting his produce to the market areas, bought bicycles for his school going children and also built a permanent house for his family.
Together with the other 37 farmers, they also contributed money and formed the Ngindo Cooperative where they would get dividends as per their contribution. AAH SS in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, with funding from World Bank bought them a maize huller where they grind their maize at reduced prices. Nonmembers are charged more.
The cooperative members have since renamed it Ngindo Maize Huller and Mill facility.
In Kassia Boma, Phoebe Alex also a farmer has 19 children with the first born sitting for his final examinations this year and the last being only two years.
Together with her husband, they did not have any knowledge in good agricultural activities and this led to poor yield on their 5 fedans farm.
“We had problems raising the children and educating them as we had poor yields. Getting only 70-80 bags of maize from the 5 feedan farm, could not sustain us. We received training from AAH-SS, farm inputs and seeds. Today we get up to 250 bags and now we are able to meet all our needs” Phoebe narrates.
EFCRP has made a great impact on the locals and farmers are now able to produce enough food for both home consumption and trading.
The project is being implemented by AAH-SS in four counties which include Morobo and Tali (Central Equatorial state) and Yambio and Nagero counties in Western Equatorial state. It supports three broad activities which include agricultural productivity, support to community safety nets and project management
Acting Chief Technical Advisor for EFCRP in the ministry, Mr. Luka Kiwanika says following food insecurity and price escalation, the government received funding from the World Bank and the project is being implemented to alleviate people from imminent suffering.
He says the government is working towards long term solutions once the nation is stable enough. This he says include seeds provision, further training and other agricultural inputs.
By Lilian Museka, Freelance Journalist