BY: Bol Mathiang, RSS, JAN/13/2013, SSN;
First and foremost, I would like to extend my appreciation to the publisher of this website because he allows us those that are not journalists and have no access to the media here in Juba to express their views to south Sudanese readers.
In regards to above question (heading), I would like to elaborate to you that the recent speech given by our president prioritized agriculture and that it would be agriculture that will put some dime into the pockets of poor south Sudanese who happen to be farmers.
But, however, what perplexed me is, which approach will the government use to achieve that objective of getting poor south Sudanese out of Poverty without heavy government investment in agriculture?
Because there are two important approaches in which that goal can be achieved, they are:
1. Government investment directly in the sector: this embodies establishment of irrigation schemes to complement seasonal agricultural system where farmers rely on natural rainfall. I viewed this approach as the one in which government does everything alone from the start to the end, i.e. securing land, recruiting workers, cultivation, wedding, harvesting, storage and selling of the realized output within and overseas as exports.
2. The second approach would be, subsidizing the local farming by availing them with subsidized agricultural equipments like tractors, fertilizers, offering agricultural advice to farmers, availing them with relevant seedlings that are suitable to their climate like drought-resistant crops… etc, training them, and securing them markets both locally and internally.
if you have been observant, you would have asked the similar questions like I do, because, I have seen the ministry of Agriculture last two year ago bringing tractors but I failed to understand whether the tractors were given to farmers just like that or whether the services mentioned in either of the two above were provided.
I cannot even mention option one above because I have never heard of any agricultural scheme that our government has established ever since they assumed office in 2005. We very well know that the overriding aim of the government had been to reach the promised land (independence), but since we have already reached the destiny, the focus should immediately shift to agriculture.
I view all states as potential agricultural areas. What the government needs is to study each state in line with what crops can do well there, so that each state can specialize in the production of crops they can do well on. That is the only hope for this illiterate poor population of republic of south Sudan.
Moreover, for any of the approaches to be successful, there must be peace all over south Sudan. If you critically review the states with instability, you can find that the states with unrest are those with cows, those without are peaceful and development is visible in those states.
The states with cows and unrest are: Greater Bhar el Ghazal, Greater Upper Nile, but Greater Equatoria is somewhat peaceful although there is some unrest in Eastern Equatoria. In order to achieve peace as a prerequisite for achieving interstates trade and flourishing of agricultural sector.
Furthermore, the government needs to deploy permanently the military between the borders of states so that whenever cattle rustling occurs, the army can easily intervene, rescue the cows and return them to the owners of a given state.
To foster the unity and political stability further, the greater Upper Nile and greater Bhar el Ghazal need to encourage inter-marriages so that unity is achieved, this is possible because all of them keep cows and pay dowries in cows.
The last step in which unity can be achieved is through making friendship with friends of different states, by this I meant, Nuer young man/lady can make friendship with another fellow in either grater Bhar el Ghazal or greater Equatoria, the writer is doing that already.
From many places I have been in Juba, I have never seen those who did exactly what I have mentioned above. The upcoming peace and reconciliation campaign can never bear fruits if the above political stability factors are not put in place.
Our government should stop talking but do more actions in agriculture so that our imports can decline, and so that South Sudanese can benefit directly from agriculture. It should be noted that agricultural transformation is one of the ways in which government of Uganda is achieving its long term goal of poverty eradication plan, now it is already getting people to the poverty line.
My last message is that the state governments should use radios, open agricultural training centers similar to the one that BYDA (Bhar el Ghazal youth development agency) was doing, to spread relevant agricultural information to every common South Sudanese. Besides that, there is a need to avail actual financial support to farmers that is if the government has chosen the second option, but if it has opted for option one, the real and quick investment is needed to avail employment in various states, and reduce food stuffs importation so that our hard currency that has been flowing out to our neighboring countries is reserved to meet importation of what we cannot produce locally.
Bol is an Economist and a concerned south Sudanese. You can reach him by phone: 0956440402 or mail through firstname.lastname@example.org