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.

Morobo Farmer Calls For More Support To Increase Food Production.
Mr. Yusto Keppo gestures as he speaks at his farm in Iraga village in Morobo County [Photo by NPA]

By Tamama Norbert Mansfield

MOROBO, 14 January 2016 [Gurtong]- 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. “What the farmers need right now is more support to strengthen them” he said.

This ambitious farmer said the rewards are worthwhile. “With the money earned from farming I’m able pay tuition fees for my children” he chuckled, pointing towards his beaming maize plantation, nearing harvest, in Iraga village, outside Morobo town.

In 2015, Justo planted maize, groundnuts and beans. Though he said excessive rainfall affected his yields. 

“I used to cultivate 8 feddans every year but I have now reduced due to local labor shortage” Said the 39 year- old father of 8 children.

Sourcing manual labor is a challenge. A trend many attribute to lack of interest in doing manual work by the local population.  Many farmers rely on hired labor from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

To cultivate a feddan using manual labor costs 500 South Sudanese Pounds (SSP), 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 only 3 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 are 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.

Mr. Nelson Lomuro, an official of the County Agriculture Department, (CAD) said ox-plough technology is yet to take root in the area.  He said: “the usage of the technology is low” some farmers said: “the nature of the soil did not favor animal traction” 

“Farmers in Morobo do not use fertilizers because the land is very fertile. Each household cultivates at least an average of 3 feddans” said Beatrice Pita Lokudu, the Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture, Morobo County.

The A/Commissioner urged the youth to embrace farming to improve their household income. She said   farmers need to plant trees to boost soil conservation.

“I call upon NPA and other aid agencies to continue building the capacity of the farmers until they are able to produce enough food to meet the market demand.”  She concluded.

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. 
Planned activities in the then, Duk County of Jonglei State did not take off due to security issues.

SPMP disbursed revolving grants of 15.000 SSP per year to selected groups. “Grant recovered from a producer group is then channeled 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.

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