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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid