Local produced seeds to boost farm yields in South Sudan.
Genuine and easily accessible seeds are vital in boosting farms yields and increase in food production for smallholder farmers in South Sudan, according to Mr. Aron Ware, a seed producer, based in Yei River County.
Scores of farmers in soil-rich South Sudan are weary of poor quality seeds.
The country’s huge food production potential is currently constrained by several factors such as by low seed production capacity, distribution and quality assurance systems compounded by lack of strong seed policies and other regulatory instruments.
Farmers rely majorly on seeds sourced from Uganda, Kenya and other parts of the world which many believe are not genuine. “The market is full of fake seeds” said Mr. Timothy Aluma, a local farmer.
“Imagine I bought sorghum seeds from the market, planted and it did not yield well. This is demoralizing” he lamented.
Mr. Aluma called for tough regulations on seed supply.
Locally produced seeds currently do not meet the market demand nationwide. Farmers yearn for good seeds which they can get on time for the planting season but what they often get is not what they wanted.
A few market players have ventured in to fill the supply gap of which one of them is Century Seeds Limited.
The Yei based company registered in 2011 has been certified by the National Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to produce hybrid seeds, according to Mr. Ware.
“We conduct seed research and breed maize, cereals, sesame, legumes, groundnut seeds and improved variety of cowpeas. Right now we are experimenting on a disease resistant maize variety, called bazooka” said, Mr. Ware, a South Sudanese national, who once worked as a seed researcher in neighboring Uganda.
“To get genuine seeds in the market right now is a big challenge. Poor quality seeds spread diseases, he said, adding that “to make farming more productive we need to produce and sell certified seeds to farmers”
“Our goal is to produce high quality seeds and supply all the corners of the country” Mr. Ware optimized.
He added that several aid agencies have shown interest in doing business with his company and some have already placed orders for supply of huge quantities of seeds.
Mr. Ware decried difficulties faced by farmers in hiring manual labor for farm work. “People don’t want to work and this negative attitude is a stumbling block to food production” he sighted. He called upon the youth to embrace farming as a business to improve their income.
Century Seed Ltd also sells agriculture inputs and trades in food produce. “We buy produce directly from the farmers upon harvest and later resale in the wider market” Mr. Ware explained.
Farmers in South Sudan face difficulties in accessing farm inputs and market for their produce.
The Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) through The Smallholder Production and Marketing Project (SPMP) stepped in to address these challenges through the provision of revolving grants to key players, said Mr. Michael Wani, NPA’s senior project officer, based in Yei.
The NORAD funded project which kicked-off in 2013 supports local business entities with revolving grants to enable them stock adequate farm inputs for sale to farmers.
The Century Seeds Limited received 30.000 South Sudanese pounds (SSP) as a grant in 2014 to strengthen their activities.
“We are grateful to NPA. We received the grant on time, sank it in the business and repaid on time. This good performance enabled us to secure another loan from the Bank to expand our operation” Mr. Ware said.