Former Civil Servant Turned Farmer In Rumbek

“After more than 21 years in the liberation struggle and 7 years serving as a civil servant in the Ministry of Education and at the same time an SPLM soldier, my work for South Sudan was still not yet over.”

Former Civil Servant Turned Farmer In Rumbek
Malual Buthoklice standingat his farm in Rumbek [Gurtong/Mabor Riak]

By Mabor Riak Magok

RUMBEK, 06 November 2017[Gurtong]-Malual Buthoklice finally made the decision to quit from civil service and turned to farming following the nationwide economic meltdown that has rocked South Sudan.

Just days ago, the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit announced that the country is broke. Employees have gone for up to six months without receiving salaries.

With all this factors leading to hardship Malual now owns a farm that is seven feddans in Eastern Bahr Naam County of Western Lakes State where he cultivates crops such as groundnuts, millet and, sorghum among other crops.

While the country produces and consumes a wide range of agricultural commodities, with the passage of time some commodities have become prominent in the national pattern of consumption. Cereals, primarily sorghum and maize, millet and rice are the dominant staple
crops in South Sudan.

According to the 2009 National Baseline Household Survey (NBHS) more than 75% of rural households consume cereals.

The 40 year old then SPLM Cadre Malual, proudly says “I spent more than seven years working as a top civil servant plus my 21 years in the bush fighting for the liberation struggle for South Sudan Independence”.

“Farming is something that I was obsessed about during my early age more than cattle keeping and I decided to try my best particularly this year in the areas of Eastern Bahr Naam County of Western Lakes State at least to cultivate my small farms with my family that are residing in Rumbek County.”

South Sudan is blessed with fertile land, capable of producing vast stretches of crops, fruits and vegetables. However, the continuous fighting in the country does not give chance to farmers to cultivate and get abundant harvest. Most at times their farms are destroyed when conflict arises leaving them with almost nothing to harvest.

“The land of South Sudan is very rich. It is an important source of food security. With government delays of salaries for the civil servants for almost 7 months,” says Malual as he laughs about it, “farming gives food security to my family.”

“I have to wake up from my bed before my family at 6:30 am in the morning to prepare the ground and ox-plough for farming. Then we have our meals at the farm at 1:00 pm, and return to the farm for a second round in the afternoon for cultivation until 6:00 pm, and then go home to sleep”. Said Malual as he smiled, giving an impression it does not bother him to know that he will later have a bounty harvest.

Malual has never worked in at the Ministry of Agriculture or trained as a farmer. He has in the past just been the head of department of civic education in the Ministry of Education in Western Lakes State.

But with the help of agriculture extension workers, from the advise he has been given he understands to well how to farm.

“The extension agriculture workers have assisted us in understanding the various methods and techniques of planting seeds, weeding and harvesting”. I am sure I will improve my farming production next year or in the future.” He confidently said.

“From what I have grown and harvested, by next year in 2018 I will be able to sell surplus in order to pay for the school fees of my five children who are studying in difference secondary and primary schools in Rumbek town and still remain with what to eat at home”.

He said, each basin of groundnut is currently sold at SSP 1,250 in Rumbek market.

However he says that with this years’ poor harvest he predicts that the prices of goods by next year will increase.

“The only way to bring food on to the table is through Agriculture” says Malual.

He is urging the people of South Sudan to embark on agriculture and stop depending on government salaries to end the continuous famine in the country.

“Our people are not able to treat themselves because there is no money for buying medicine, while some minor diseases such as malaria are so rampant and are causing threats and deaths to every household in the community.” he said.

Mamuor Ajuong Moot, a civil servant working in the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Industry on the other hand is not involved in farming. He regrets not having ventured into farming as is now the most lucrative business as well as sustaining families in South Sudan.

“Now my living has been greatly affected and there is no government salary. I am now unable to buy a bag of groundnut that is SSP 7,500 and 50 kg of maize flour which is SSP 9,500.if I had cultivated any piece of land; I would have resorted to only buying maize flour until the harvest season.”

“I have learnt a lesson this year. Next year I will be the first person to move to the village to make clear and prepare an Ox-plough for cultivation in my father’s garden in Ayen-mayor.”

Ajuong who works for Democracy international (DI) as a supporting stuff with a salary of just 300 USD says he will now shift to farming despite challenges of insecurity in Western Lakes State.

“I would have saved my USD 300 dollars for some other purposes if I had cultivated a piece of land in the village” he regretfully says.

“The only issue which has prevented me was ignorance, but not insecurity.”

As for Malual, he is now appealing to partners supporting agriculture to support his next year’s plan of extending his agricultural farm with enough agricultural tools and Ox-ploughs for cultivation.

“I am very confident, I will form a strong group of farmers to join the farmers union and my dream is that, our produce will replace foreign products in Rumbek Market.”

“Everything is sold at very high prices because it is imported from outside to Rumbek and our people are suffering. Nobody can afford to buy 50 kg of maize flour sold in Rumbek and there is enough fertile land up to our borders with Western Equatoria. Why can’t we produce food for ourselves “. He said.

“My idea for choosing farming as the only option to fight poverty and hunger keeps me going”.
Malual is well-known by his community and colleague as one of the most successful people in the area.

“I have never escaped from any task that I have chosen for my life. I work to succeed. Just as I succeeded the 21 years, I will also be a successful farmer and that’s how people know me.”

He said that International organizations such as WFP and FAO purchased different types of local crops including sorghum, groundnut, millet, peas, and legumes from him last year in 2016, which were distributed to the different parts of the State during the seeds and food asset distribution to the community of Western Lakes State.

 
 

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