Morobo farmer calls for more support to increase food production
Farmers in South Sudan’s soil rich Morobo County have the capacity to produce enough food to meet market demand if more support is given to them, according to Mr. Yusto kepo, a local farmer.
Yusto is a member of Iraga Producer’s group who received support from the Smallholder Production and Marketing Project (SPMP) implemented by the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).
Morobo has a huge agriculture potential with more than 90% of the land being suitable for farming, authorities said.
“We have the potential to produce enough food to sell to other parts of the country since we are blessed with fertile soil and enough rainfall,” Mr. Yusto said.
South Sudan is today one of the most food insecure countries in the world. The UN estimate that 6.1 million are in need of assistance, most of them because of access to food.
“What the farmers need right now is more support to strengthen them,” Mr. Yusto said.
The ambitious farmer said the rewards are worthwhile.
“With the money earned from farming I’m able pay tuition fees for my children” he stated, pointing towards his beaming maize plantation, nearing harvest, in Iraga village, outside Morobo town.
In 2015, Justo planted maize, groundnuts and beans.
“I used to cultivate eight feddans every year but I have now reduced due to local labour shortage,” said the 39 years old father of eight.
To cultivate a feddan using manual labour costs 500 South Sudanese Pounds (SSP)(approx. 280 NOK), accordingly to farmers.
A feddan is a piece of land measuring (60mx70m). An acre of land equals to approximately 2.3 feddans.
A hired tractor ploughs a feddan at 450SSP. However the whole county has very few functional tractors, something all the farmers are weary about.
“If there were enough tractors for hire in the county, we would have increased our acreage as a group and individually” he added.
Mr. Yusto said poor quality seeds prevailing in the market, is another factor that is hampering production, an issue echoed continuously by the farmers.
An effort to address seed quality is catered for in SPMP under the support to micro-projects for seed multiplication.
SPMP aims at equipping targeted farmer groups in South Sudan to produce enough food to meet the increasing local market demand, according to Mr. Michael Wani, NPA’s senior project officer.
The project supports the targeted farmers with the provision of revolving grants, improved crop varieties, extension and trainings services to increase production, processing and marketing capacity of the farmers in the then, Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria and Jonglei states.
SPMP disbursed revolving grants of 15.000 SSP per year to selected groups.
“Grant recovered from a producer group is then channelled to another selected group, to serve the same purpose, and the circle continues,” Mr. Wani explained.
He added: “We first give 60% of the agreed amount. The balance of 40% is released upon satisfactory performance by the group”. Grants recovery is overseen by the County Technical committee (CTC) who among others participate in the group selection and performance evaluation
The NORAD funded project kicked-off in 2013 and is ongoing.