Editorial

Advanced crop production a sure way of sustainability and growth

By Milly Bayi Nyuga

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”.

Agriculture is the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products.

Crop production is the branch of agriculture that deals with the production of crops for food and fiber.”

The agriculture industry in South Sudan is still grappling with challenges linked to insecurities, poor infrastructures, ignorance, lack of expertise, profit repatriations, heavy dependence on imports among the many. In a report by World Food Programme (WFP), it stated some of the challenges.

“Since operations resumed in 2014, smallholder farmers in South Sudan have marketed 376 mt of crops to WFP, despite challenges such as insecurity, lack of electricity and poor infrastructure, especially a lack of passable roads. WFP plans to purchase another 500 mt in the upcoming season. Food purchased from these farmers is used for emergency operations in the country. However, the country’s general instability makes long-term planning challenging.” The report stated.

It also featured a testimony from one of the beneficiaries who spoke about the organization’s P4P project that was initiated by the programme to support small holder farmers to market and increase their production. 

“Before P4P, farmers had no connection to the market – we didn’t have a store, there was no warehouse, people were just selling a few kilograms of maize – but now with P4P, there is a market, we can sell in bigger quantities and make money to send our kids to school”, says James Apora Ola, President of Alaro Kodi farmers’ organization in Palawar, Eastern Equatoria State.

WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative supports smallholder farmers and agricultural markets to continue functioning during the crisis. With the renewal of conflict in late 2013, P4P activities were put on hold. In April 2014, P4P recommenced implementation in relatively stable and accessible areas in Western, Central and Eastern Equatoria States. Working with a wide variety of partners, P4P helps build smallholders’ capacity and assists them to sell their surplus crops to WFP and other buyers.  

Today, let us discuss crop growing, planting seasons with emphasis on the need to boost crop produce, the benefits and crop growing technologies that multiply produce, linking them to the 17 SDGs.      

South Sudan is tropical country with Savannah vegetation whose planting season is normally in May while August, September, October, November, are the harvest seasons, depending on the gestation period of the type of crop for example, ground nuts take around 3 months from planting while sorghum takes 4 months.

Unfortunately, the weather patterns nowadays have really changed, thanks to climate change. The rains are not constant anymore, sometimes it starts in April, while other times, it is May, so it is not so reliable like it used to. Levels of crop and vegetable production in South Sudan remain low. As is the case in much of eastern Africa, farmers rely heavily on rainfed crop production meaning erratic or delayed rains can result in poor or no harvests, while heavy rains and flooding can waterlog fields and destroy stocks.

Good enough, the SDGs have room for nations to develop and address the issue of climate change. It is clearly stated in SDG 13, which is Climate Action, that indicates the need to combat the ever-worsening climate crisis. Beautifully, agriculture being broad, has what it takes to breakdown the complex issues affecting the globe, including the alarming climate change.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicate the main strategies to living a sustainable yet developed world collectively, leaving no one behind by involving all to support this agenda 2030 in all fields, every action counts.

The SDGs which can directly be achieved by crop growing include (1) No Poverty, (2) Zero Hunger, (3) Good Health and Well-being, (4) Quality Education, (5) Gender Equality, (6) Clean Water and Sanitation, (7) Affordable and Clean Energy, (8) Decent Work and Economic Growth, (9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, (10) Reducing Inequality, (11) Sustainable Cities and Communities, (12) Responsible Consumption and Production, (13) Climate Action, (14) Life Below Water, (15) Life On Land, (16) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, (17) Partnerships for the Goals.

Allow me briefly elaborate how we can collectively achieve these goals,

Growing food for subsistence and commercial use will eliminate poverty, hunger and boost our health especially the children in our country who are highly malnourished. From doing commercial agriculture, we can provide quality education especially to the young people of this nation both theoretically and practically, taking field tours to the farms and production sites.

We can beat gender inequality by giving both women and men the rights and opportunities to grow crops and sale both locally and internationally.

Being conscious of our crop environment, we then become awakened too to importance of clean water, general hygiene and sanitation, you wouldn’t want to use dirty water to tend to your crops especially when you have the longest river in the world flowing right through you.

This shall combat climate change because our being conscious of what is healthy for our environment shall keep us from harming it and with agriculture comes proper use and care of the soil, flora and fauna, air, water and all-natural resources.

Having a stable agriculture sector then ensures decent work for all, right from the producers, transporters, consumers and a stable economic structure for the country, because the country would be producing, feeding and exporting agricultural produce to grow her economy.

With production, there is room for innovations and invasions, boosting industries and infrastructure. The roads shall be built and many improved for transportation, buildings for local markets, factories, stores, training centers shall be established and we shall have a capital city and develop other towns in the country, therefore sustainable cities. We need structures to boost about too, why only does Dubai get the chance?

Invasions, innovations, creativity can include green, affordable, clean energy solutions to help combat the climate crisis affecting the globe, yes, we are dreaming for the whole world! Isn’t the youngest nation allowed to be creative? I thought that it was the young people who had the most creative minds.

With the former shall come everlasting peace, justice and strong institutions in the country and this shall attract partnerships and good investments into the economy and we shall therefore have continuous growth of the country.

Given our ever-advancing world, many nations have long adopted the modern farming technology which has greatly improved produce, widened their markets, boosted their economies, partnerships and developed them in the long run. This technology has rapidly expanded in the western countries. 

Modern farming technology is used to improve the wide types of production practices employed by farmers. It makes use of hybrid seeds of selected variety of a single crop, technologically advanced equipment and lots of energy subsidies in the form of irrigation water, fertilizers and pesticides. It includes; indoor vertical farming, farm automation, livestock farming technology, modern greenhouses.

Benefits of this technology include; modern machines can reduce efforts of farmers, it can reduce the production time, it is used to supply water to the crops, machines are useful for sowing the seeds, it is chemical pest control, improves fertility of the soil, increase the price and demand of the products, reduce the impact on the ecosystem.

In addition to modern farming is organic agriculture which is defined as, “the production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved,” International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.

“We must encourage the young generation to learn more about sustainable agriculture and food supply while highlighting the vital role of science and innovation,” Liam Condon, Member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and Head of the Crop Science Division

However, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been criticized for inability and ineffectiveness in some areas. The SDGs have been criticized for their inability to protect biodiversity. They could unintentionally promote environmental destruction in the name of sustainable development

The SDGs were set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030. They are included in a UN Resolution called the 2030 Agenda or what is colloquially known as Agenda 2030.

They are ideal for smaller spaces or for more delicate flowers that are particularly susceptible to environmental factors and pests. Given the fact that in our town, we have scarce land on which to live and cultivate, citizens should consider opting for potted plant growing.

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