News / Africa

Smallholder Farmer in South Sudan has Big Dreams

  • Sebit Amusa Tongun holds organic papayas he grew on a five-acre plot near Juba.
  • Raindrops cling to unripe oranges on a tree on the plot of land near Juba where Sebit Amusa Tongun grows organic fruit and vegetables in his spare time.
  • Catherine Joan carries a basin piled high with fresh produce that she bought at Sebit Amusa Tongun's smallholder farm near Juba.
Smallholder Farmer in South Sudan Has Big Dreams
Mugume Davis Rwakaringi
Every evening as he heads home from his government job in Juba, Sebit Amusa Tongun crosses the Nile River in a small wooden canoe and heads to a five-acre patch of land surrounded by forest to tend to scores of fruit trees and vegetables.

As birds hover overhead, Tongun tends to the papaya, vegetables and fruit trees that compete for sun on the land, around two kilometers outside Juba.

Tongun sells his produce -- all of it organic -- to local merchants like Catherine Joan, a widow who uses the 15-25 South Sudanese Pounds she makes per basin from reselling the fruit to look after her three children and in-laws.

On a good day, Joan said, she can sell three or four silver basins piled high with fruit or vegetables.

Tongun is pleased that the farm helps him to help people like Joan, allows him to give work to around 10 farm laborers every day, and to provide for his family. He says he nets around 500 South Sudanese pounds a day selling his fresh, organic produce to local merchants.

But his dream is to have the fruits and veg from his plot of land gracing market stalls and tables far from the South Sudanese capital, even across the border in neighboring countries like Kenya and Uganda.

Tongun said he would be a big step closer to realizing that dream if the government would give him technical assistance in key areas that are outside his realm of expertise.

He asked a year ago for help installing "modern irrigation... because that is not my profession. The irrigation which I am using now, it is very costly... it is taking a lot of water and fuel.”

If he had modern irrigation equipment, he said, he would be able to grow fruit and vegetables in abundance, year-round.

Helping small farming operations like Tongun's to grow and improve efficiency would not only help people like Tongun to realize their dreams, but would also help South Sudan to match agricultural output with a growing population, the country head of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, Sue Lautze, said. 

But that is unlikely to happen until austerity measures that were imposed by the South Sudanese government in February last year, amid a row with Khartoum over oil production, are lifted. 

“The problem is nationwide agricultural production is not keeping up with population growth, so we are not having a big enough impact yet - we are not yet at scale," Lautze said.

"And many of the questions of getting up to scale won’t be answered until the austerity measures are lifted by the government.”

According to information on the website of a major agricultural conference held in South Sudan, only five percent of the more than 74 million acres of arable land in the country are currently in use. 

Most of South Sudan's land has lain fallow for decades because of the decades-long civil war and doesn't require synthetic fertilizers to improve fertility. 

Organic farming systems rely on ecologically based practices such as cultural and biological pest management, exclusion of all synthetic chemicals, antibiotics and hormones in crop and livestock production.

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs