WHY SOUTH SUDAN SHOULD CONCENTRATE ON AGRICULTURE

By Akecam Mamer Thokgor, Western Lakes State, South Sudan

Women farming in Eastern Equatoria, South Sudan (Photo: Peter Biro/IRC)

Women farming in Eastern Equatoria, South Sudan (Photo: Peter Biro/IRC)

June 4th, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —— By fact South Sudan is recognized as one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Africa with over sixty (60) major language or ethnic groups. Due to this fact, South Sudan as a country currently has a population of 13,028412, based on the latest United Nations estimates that was released on Friday April, 28,2017(for more information visit: www.worldometers.info/world-population/south-sudan-population). This implies that the population of South Sudan population about 0.17% of the total World population.

As seen in the above paragraph, there is a rapid population growth in South Sudan. For instance, during the Fifth Population and Housing Census of Sudan of 2008, it was found that the population of South Sudan was 8.26 millions.  Looking at the increase of the population of South Sudan from 13,028412 to 8.26 million, it can be concluded that despite the war, famine, hunger, starvation and other related diseases, the population of South Sudan is growing unabatedly. This explains why there is a need for the government to properly plan for this run away population.

Thus, basing on the brief introduction concerning about the population and why the government needs to plan ahead above, I would like to inform you, my readers that population of South Sudan is at a daily increasing rate at such a high rate that  the  available resources without their proper utilization may not adequately meet the needs of the citizens. This is why the Nation of South Sudan and her government should rethink from the current economic paradigm to other form of economy that will be able to meet the needs for this ever increasing population in South Sudan.

As hinted above, there is a need to serious undertake the diversification and modernization of agriculture programme if South Sudan is to meet the needs for this increasing population. In fact, initially as many of us know, three provinces of Southern Sudan as the region that was broken off into South Sudan, Blue Nile, Southern and Northern Kordofan and Nuba Mountain were self-relevance as they depended on Agriculture which is not the case today.

Today, the dependence on oil has led to the neglect of agriculture. However, this has come with the cost. The population is now becoming more and more dependent on oil which has led to the neglect of the alternative economic activities. Because of this, the citizens of South Sudan have totally abandoned agriculture as they have rushed for oil money, which is marred with misappropriation.

Misappropriation of the oil resources has instead of bringing development and more unity among South Sudan, it led to the misunderstanding and misgiving among the population increasing hatred and division in the country. This is because people look at violent as the only solution to address their grievances. At the same time, a good section of the population has resorted into clearing indigenous trees for charcoal just to earn meager incomes for the family survival. Hence, this action of clearing the whole indigenous forests for charcoals making will result into degradation which will cause desertification of South Sudan in the near future.

The independent on oil has also led our mothers abandoning rural areas and moved to towns claiming that it is the best place for living due to the cheap oil money forgetting that there is no town without any villages. Looking at the impact oil has had on the livelihood of the citizens, the question is: where then is the room for agriculture if no one holds the responsibility of maintaining the gardens yet we well know that developed countries like the USA we see today wholly depend on agricultural products their citizens labored for on top of other resources?

Even if we have the UN today feeding us in form of the World Food Programme, we cannot deceive ourselves that the food supplied by the World Food Programme is not free as we think. There is always string attached to it. To avoid this, we must work hard in order to become self-reliance to ensure that this dependent on oil and the UN never repeats itself.

To insult to injury or to make the matters worse, citizens of South Sudan look at the government as if it is the source of everything. This is why majority of them absolutely depend on the government for survival and ignore agriculture. The question that comes into mind is: who is the government? It appears that we have forgotten that we are the government. In fact, without us, these leaders we look up to will not be there without our support.  According to me, the leaders are only there to guide and protect us, which is their main work.

Having pointed the role of the Government, the government is not there to provide for food for everyone in South Sudan as the expectation of some us. However, we cannot blame the citizens since the government has contribution in our failure to concentrate on the development of agriculture. For the agriculture to be developed there must be security for people which is lacking in South Sudan. The lack of stable security has made citizens to run to towns as seen in Western Lakes State and Gogrial State where they become dependent on their relatives who are working in the government.

The failure to provide stable security which has led to failure of agricultural sector has affected majority of South Sudanese citizens by uprooting them from their traditional society and environment where they work independently of the government, which is very painful. I always feel sad and almost lose hope to see a good portion of our population surviving on stealing and begging on the street or dependent on handouts from their relatives in the government yet they have a capacity to feed themselves even other countries if agricultural sector is developed.

Due to the failure to develop agriculture will keep the country in indefinite hunger and starvation that will promote more citizens to get involved in criminal activities, which will have negative implications on the country as a whole. For instance, some men as we see always in South Sudan wake up in every morning and plan to go to the road to ambush passers-by just to rob in order to survive or to sit down under trees for the whole day playing cards.  This shows that such men have completely abandoned their duties.

It is therefore hurting to see some men of South Sudan abandoning their traditional duties to women and women are now playing the roles of heads of the families contrary to the traditional family role though women are not economically empowered to play such a role. Sadly enough, men still hold resources though they have failed to care for the family while leaving women to scratch bear ground to meet family ends meet.

It should be noted that women without sources or income to care for the family affects put family in abject poverty which destroys the hope of the family. This is because when the head of the family has no hope, the whole family becomes hopeless.

Consequently, failing to care for their women and families men have abrogated their responsibilities, which affects wives ability to work alongside their husbands. This has destroyed the truthfulness of our common saying that for every strong man there is a strong woman. The question is, where else will these women get the brain to stand behind their husbands to build a strong men or strong nation unless they are empowered economically or men take their responsibility as heads of their families to care for all the families including women instead of leaving women to wear themselves out in tedious work to care for the family.

In summary, the government needs to start developing agriculture which means that there is a need for prioritizing agriculture if South Sudan is to be a better place for all South Sudanese. Besides, developing agriculture in South Sudan starts with you. If you cannot go to the garden, please try sensitizing the people around you about how we can bring change through agriculture.

As it was started in the previous year with the distribution of tractors, which were distributed to all states of South Sudan though few states such as Gok State have made use of them, that can be the beginning of agricultural revolution. In regard to the failure of rain as we always experience, such failure can be solved through developing drought resistant crops or strong irritation system in all states.

Developing agriculture sector to its potential can solve a problem of food insecurity. Assuring food security in South Sudan can provide human security. Remember that without food security being assured even your children in the house can rebel against you if you cannot provide enough food for them.

Aside, to conclude dear readers, I would like to caution you after you have read this article that the purpose of writing it is not to cause any kind of provocation or any connected to politics of any kind, but rather it is some deeply rooted in concern or patriotism for the future of South Sudan as a nation. The writer simply stresses this article is based on personal informed opinion over our current crises facing South Sudan.

The  writer is a concerned citizen of South Sudan. She can be reached at akecammamer@gmail.com. Or contact her at 0954959345/0923376474.

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