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FAO project transforms livelihoods of Wau farmers

Local farmers in Western Bahr El Ghazal State’s Wau area have seen their livelihoods transformed through a four-year project being implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) funded by the Dutch government.

The Food and Nutrition Security Resilience Programme (FNS-REPRO) implemented by FAO has helped farmers like Santino Manut Akech, who belongs to Rain Power Green Agriculture Co-operative Society in Marial Bai Payam of Jur River County to boost their income and productivity.

This cooperative society comprising of 85 members produces, processes, packages, and stores and sells seeds and other agricultural products to FAO and other potential buyers.

Manut, a 52-year-old former Commissioner of Jur River County and Chairperson of Rain Power Green Agriculture Co-operative Society, says the project equipped them with techniques and tools to improve cereal production in the County.

“Last year, we produced 3 600 bags of groundnuts and 1,200 bags of sorghum but this year as you have seen we will reach 5 000 or 6 000 bags of groundnuts and sorghum,” Manut says.

The project has so far benefited 8, 800 farmers in Jur River County and Wau County of Western Bahr el Ghazal State.

It mainly focuses on building the seeds system, encouraging farmers to produce local seeds and market them through trade fair.

Manut says the knowledge and skills acquired by his group enabled them to produce 1, 800 tons of groundnuts and 600 tons of sorghum last year.

He says they are optimistic of producing enough cereal crops next year for the local market, adding their main aim is to turn Wau into a “food basket” in the next three years.

“And this year, the groundnuts will reach 2,000 bags and we will meet our target of 3,000 bags of sorghum. This will be possible,” Manut says.

“If we continue to receive support from FAO for the next three years, we will feed the whole population of Wau.”

Bol Akec, 57-year-old farmer living with disability in an interview with journalists at Marial Bai on 16 July 2023 [Photo: Awan Achiek]

Bol Akec, a 57-year-old farmer living with disability says he used some of his earnings to buy for himself a new motorbike to help him get to the farm.

“I used the profits to feed my family and send my children to school. I also managed to buy a new motorbike after the old one got spoiled last year,” Akec says.

Akec a member of Agriculture Cooperative Group in Marial Bai Payam, says they received seeds, tools as well as training from FAO.

“I own four farmlands and I grow sorghum and groundnuts,” he reveals.

He says the project helped them to boost food production as well as earn extra income for his family’s needs.

“I made SSP 3 million this year from my produce of last year, and I injected some into the farm so that I can produce more by the end of this year. I also bought 200 cows,” Akec says.

The FNS-REPRO programme started in October 2019 in Somaliland and Sudan, and South Sudan was requested to join on October 1st, 2020.

It’s implementation commenced in 2020 in Western Bahr El Ghazal, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, and Jonglei and Upper Nile states.

The beneficiaries from the project say they are now supplying seeds and produce to neighboring War-rap state.

“Through my cereal crop sales, I made SSP 2 million which I used to pay school fees for my five children,”

Angelino Akol, Sub-Chief of Marial Ajith village of Jur River County says.

Akol a father of five, appealed to UN agencies and other organizations to provide them with ox-plough in order to help increase food production.

“If we are provided with ox-ploughs, we will be able to increase the production and supply the entire country with food,” he says.

Akol has been able to save SSP 5 million he made from his produce.

Regina Adau, a member of Piantok Co-operative Group comprising of 30 members, says they reaped big from growing sorghum, groundnuts, and sesame.

“I bought five heads of cattle this year,” Adau a -mother of five says.

“I have a grown up son who is ready to get married. If he decides to get married today, I will pay his bride price with these cows,” she adds.

Adau was trained by FAO for two months on good agricultural practices.

“I really appreciate FAO for helping us and if they have other projects of this kind, let them help other farmers who didn’t benefit from this project,” she says.

Beneficiaries of FNS clearing farmlands in Marial Bai Payam on 16 July 2022 [Photo: Awan Achiek]

The FNS-REPRO programme in South Sudan is positively contributing to Sustainable Development Goals of No Poverty (SDG 1), Zero Hunger (SDG 2) and Life on Land (SDG 15) by taking an area-based approach and facilitating new networks and practices to tackle key challenges in strengthening the resilience of seeds systems in South Sudan.

World Concern FNS Field Assistant, Moses Akec Akot says beneficiaries produced 5 000kg of seeds be-tween 2021 and 2023.

World Concern is the implementing partner of FAO’s FNS-Repro project in Western Bahr el Ghazal State.

“Last year, these people produced a lot of sorghum and seeds. They produced and sold 2 000kg of seeds last year. This year, they produced 3 000kg,” Akot says.

He says FAO is also supporting agricultural cooperatives by connecting them with leading buyers of the seeds.

“In Jur River County this year, 400 beneficiaries were supported by FAO by connecting them with leading farmers who bought their seeds, especially in Majak Alel,” he says, adding, “These people will sup-ply the whole country with seeds in two years’ time.”

Mimi Emilia Wanga, UN-FAO Seed Extension Assistant, says within FNS-Repro, they are targeting 3,000 beneficiaries in Wau County and 3,000 in Jur River County.

“First of all, we have what we call progressive farmers, those who can produce large quantities and also we chose some of the beneficiaries by looking at their levels of vulnerability,” Emilia says.

Based on consultations between the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Dutch Embassy in Juba, WUR and FAO, the selection of seeds as the central value chain for FNS-REPRO in South Sudan was confirmed at the end of 2019.

Thereafter, a team of experts from the Wageningen University and Research, Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, and the FAO Resilience Team for Eastern Africa Food and Nutrition Security Resilience visited South Sudan from 27 to 29 November 2019 to identity the key issues and way forward for developing the seed sector in South Sudan.

The team consulted a number of key stakeholders – that included Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), Seed Trade Association of South Sudan (STASS), Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and a number of donors.

Priorities identified during scoping and consultation noted that about 85 percent of certified seed is being imported into the country, mostly by FAO and some by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for humanitarian interventions.

FAO is targeting to raise its local procurement from the current 15 percent to about 25 percent in the coming years.

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