DO MORE TO INCREASE FOOD PRODUCTION
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By Paul Jimbo
Recent reports indicate that more than six million people in South Sudan are in dire need of food assistance. These figures also indicate that some one million children are among those under threats of serious starvation.
South Sudan, the world youngest nation has been faced with chronic hunger.
This confirmation comes hot on the heels of information that some populations in different parts of the country are already starving despite several interventions by WFP and other humanitarian aid agencies.
The recent flooding in parts of the country have only worsened food distribution efforts even after the United Nations declared that the country faced serious starvation in 2017.
A spot check on several parts of the country paints a grim picture of the sorry situation more specifically the flooding and sufferings of rural communities across the states.
Several organizations have tried their best to avert the situation but the situation seems to be getting out of hand.
Humanitarian reports released in October last year indicated that nearly half of South Sudan’s population faces extreme hunger, the country’s highest proportion of food insecure people in the last 10 years.
Near-famine conditions are predicted in four of South Sudan’s states, a rapid and worrying increase from 2017, in which famine was only declared in one state.
It is very important to focus at providing a sustainable solution the frequent hunger in the country.
Although provision of food aids by the humanitarian agencies is significant, it will help the situation if rural farmers were able to produce some foods to subsidize relief food.
Today, most parts of the country are staring at a situation where hunger and starvation threaten to claim lives.
The government should resort to massive irrigation programme for sustainable food production.
We have massive swaths of land, millions of virgin and fertile arable land that can produce enough food for local consumption including exports.
Empowering rural farmers by giving them skills and modern farming tools so that they embrace mechanized farming would be part of the solution to this crisis.
The government can also subsidize farm incentives including waivers or tax exemptions on farm equipment and implements to reduce the cost of production.
This will cushion local farmers against unfair competition by unscrupulous traders acting as middlemen who exploit the farmers.
The whole process should be well monitored including provision of ready markets for local produces.
When food is produced locally, agencies like WFP can as well buy grains directly from contracted farmers to make life easy for us.
The government should also focus on infrastructural development to ensure accessibility to markets.
It is worth noting that rural farmers can do their best to increase food production but the catch comes in when they cannot access markets.
Some of these produces are perishable and need ready markets, failure of which, farmers simply count losses and this can be so discouraging.
As I have always indicated earlier on, the solution to the food crisis in this country does not rely on relief food distribution or handouts or even all the good policies on paper but on proper planning and empowerment of local farmers.
We should end the culture of over relying on donor aid or relief food. This makes us more vulnerable and so the faster we beginning to embrace farming, the more food secure, we will become.
We all yearn for peace and one of the best dividends for peace would be increased food production for local consumption and export.
It is more evident that peace is fast returning and soon we will be boasting of the new government of national unity.
The only way to realize and enjoy the dividends of peace will be to channel more resources into food production.
It should also involve training farmers on modern farming methods and technics including high yield seeds and fertilizers to boost food production.