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Catholic Entity in South Sudan Seeking Partnerships to Address Food Security Challenge

Credit: Solidarity with South Sudan (SSS)

Solidarity with South Sudan (SSS) is seeking to partner with “well-wishers worldwide” in view of reaching out to local farmers in the East-Central African nation to address the challenge of food security.

In an interview with ACI Africa, an official of SSS, an initiative of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) and the Union of Superiors General (USG), established in response to a request from the members of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), said the partnerships would facilitate the training and empowerment of South Sudanese farmers at the grassroots.

“We as Solidarity with South Sudan need to be supported and we are appealing to well-wishers worldwide, be (they) Church entities, United Nations agencies, or any international body that would like to support the people of South Sudan to overcome the challenge of food insecurity,” SSS Project Manager, Elias Kubayo, said during the October 21 interview.

Mr. Kubayo Added in reference to well-wishers from across the globe, “They should always be willing to support Solidarity with South Sudan by giving us funds to be able to support local food production in this part of the country.”

“Having already shaped a program for input to help local farmers produce local food, we look forward to more funding to be able to intensify the inputs of local food production in the country,” the official of the Catholic entity that runs the Sustainable Agricultural Project (SAP-R) in Riimenze aimed at securing livelihoods further said. 

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According to Mr. Kubayo, the Riimenze initiative is offering employment to “between 15 and 20 permanent workers and numerous casual workers from the surrounding communities. It provides income opportunities, especially for women.”

The SSS Project Manager told ACI Africa that SAP-R has “a nutrition training programme for women which enables them to improve nutrition practices by making the best use of their farm and household resources.”

The Riimenze initiative “also assists farmers with knowledge on farm planning and seeding workshops are conducted for outside growers,” he further said, adding, “Other workshops cover the topics of plant protection, crop rotation and propagation, post-harvest handling, and livestock, especially pigs and chickens.”

Mr. Kubayo went on to highlight some of the challenges SSS face in its Riimenze initiative operations.

“At the moment we have limited funding; we are not able to support the farmers to overcome all the challenges they are facing," he said during the October 21 interview, and adding that the training aims at improving the farming skills of the beneficiaries. 

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The SSS project manager further explained in reference to the beneficiaries of the Riimenze initiative, “We only train them locally on how to use local available means to be able to prevent their produce from being spoiled either by pest or any other external factors like weather.”

“Some farmers are not educated; we give them more practical training to mitigate or overcome the challenges,” Mr. Kubayo said, and identified marketing of farm produce as “a big challenge” for local farmers in South Sudan.

He further said, “As we encourage farmers to produce more, in the end we Solidarity with South Sudan don’t have money from the farmers but we only train them how to start looking for their own market.”

“When they go out it’s not easy to get the best market they want because when you go to the local market, you will find that the prices of food commodities are very cheap compared to the production cost,” the SSS official explained.

The Riimenze initiative involves 1,000 beneficiaries made up of 757 households, Mr. Kubayo told ACI Africa October 21, adding that the SSS project supports 300 children under its nutrition program.

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There are household members who benefit from the SSS agronomy in view of producing agronomic crops; others benefit from horticultural production. 

Another category of household members benefits from SSS livestock keeping, which include piggery production and goat production, he said, and added, “We also have thirty households that we are supporting in improved bee keeping.”

“We have one hundred women we are supporting in nutrition and another one hundred we support in the saving scheme,” the SSS Project Manager further said, and adding that there is a small group of women who receive “small loans to be able to do some small-scale business in order to generate income to support themselves.”

Mr. Kubayo went on to highlight the success of the Riimenze initiative, saying, “Farmers are replicating our skills on the farmland, because before the project, farmers were mainly using traditional methods to do the agricultural production.”

“They were not using methods of planting in lines; there was no crop protection, or appropriated mix farming like intercropping,” the SSS official said, adding that farmers “were intercropping but not knowing which crop benefits from each other, and which spacing that you need to use when intercropping.”

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Before the Riimenze initiative, he continued, “The farmers didn’t know Integrated Pest Management (IPM), but with our support and training they are able to develop their own IPM using the local available materials that we have.”

“Adaption is a process because not everyone that we train has adapted all the best practices we expect them but some of them are practicing what we have taught them,” Mr. Kubayo told ACI Africa October 21.

He added, “In terms of productivity farmers are producing more food because of adaptation of the improved methods.”