The rainy season has arrived in Sudan’s North Darfur region and the UN Food and Agriculture organization is launching a new program to revitalize farming there. The on-going Darfur conflict has disrupted three planting seasons.
The FAO is supplying over 550 tons of various seeds and nearly 80-thousand hand tools to families in North Darfur. Gregory Garbinsky is the senior operations officer at the UN agency’s emergency operations service. From Rome, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about efforts in North Darfur.
He says, “Well, what we’re doing currently is we’ve been able to provide seeds and agricultural tools to those vulnerable and conflict-affected families in that area that are not necessarily in IDP camps, internally displaced (persons) camps. There are many communities that still have access to land and to some resources that if they had the wherewithal, that is available seeds, which we can distribute, and hand tools, including donkey ploughs, they’re able then to assure their own food security and enable them to feed themselves and not have to rely on just food aid.”
Security is a big issue with two main rebel groups battling government forces. Asked if it is safe to plant crops, Mr. Garbinsky says, “ Obviously it’s situation dependent. The situation actually over the last several months seems to have improved somewhat. The African Union peacekeepers are in the area now and that seems to be having some influence. What’s not known is that many people never did leave their homes or their communities. That obviously the most vulnerable, those that were the most threatened, may have gone to the camps for food and for security reasons. But we have to realize that Darfur is basically the size of France. That there are many communities where they still do have access to their land, where they have tried to remain in their homes if it’s secure. And they’re able to then regenerate their livelihoods and start planting again.”
The rainy season in North Darfur is expected to last two to three months. The FAO also has programs in Darfur to support livestock, especially donkeys, which are used for many tasks.