By Wek Atak Kacjang
At least 30,000 households who were part of the hundreds of farming groups that improved productivity and created more sources of livelihood after Society of Daughters of Mary Immaculate(SDMI)has introduced modern farming.
Earlier, Society of Daughter Mary Immaculate introduced the small scale farms in Juba County of Central Equatoria State, Gogrial of Warrap and Yirol in Lakes State have been supported with seeds, tools and acquired the best farming methods to improve their yields.
Speaking to media yesterday, Manager of Food, Nutrition Security and Livelihood Management of Society of Daughters of Mary Immaculate,Rani Mary said that food security was not just access to food which could be supported by food availability in the markets, but for them food security was about that, South Sudanese must have the ability to grow their own food.
“Charity Organization has embarked on supporting farmers in Central Equatoria states through strategies including but not limited to organizing the farmers into associations in whichSDMI sisters provided various supports to farmers. Society of DaughterMary Immaculate have modern technologies to pilot, they also have consultations with the local farmers through the farmers’ associations to agree theappropriate technologies that can be tested in order to produce more,” she said.
She added that farmers field school leaders were the decision makers and nominated participants to the trainings on modern agricultural practices the(SDMI)organized regularly for farmers and Agriculture Extension workers and the issues of landlessness was no more an excuse for not growing vegetables”Sr Rani said.
She revealed they have introduced the concept of vertical garden which was simple with a high impact. She said they had introduced what they called urban and pri-urban for the farmers where there was limited opportunity for cultivation of crops on a large scale to the local farmers in the towns.
“The practice which let urban dwellers use empty containers to grow vegetables has been combined with backyard gardening by women in communities in the outskirts of Juba. The women are able to harvest vegetables that serve not just their domestic consumption, but also earn them income. In the past three years, SDMI has trained and sent to the communities 120 Agriculture Extension workers. DMI provides irrigation equipment to members of the farmer field schools in riverine areas to irrigate their farms during the dry season. To help increase the crops cultivation areas SDMI also provides subsidized tractor services to formers,”
Meanwhile, Food Security Project Coordinator for the Society of Daughters of Mary Immaculate,Patrick Tani Kenyi said that food was not just grain asfood included all the nutrients someone could get from the plant that was the reason they encouraged farmers to plant fruit trees alongside other crops.
“At the demonstration farm in Gurei, the SDMI teach farmers about the different fruits, their nutritional and herbal values. They also supply the farmers with seedlings of the different fruit trees to encourage them to replicate the development of theirown orchards,” Kenyi.
He added that St. Joseph’s training center in Gurei, DMI offered diploma level training for Agriculture Extension workers.
“The water shed concept helps farmers to conserve water when it is in abundance and use the moist land to cultivate their vegetable during a dry season. This adorable technology can help farmers inareas not accessing river to grow their crops more than one time in the year,”Kenyi said.
However, Deputy Country Director for Society of Daughters of Mary Immaculate, David Sovula said that famers also equipped with various ways of raising their own money.
“We are training these framers to see the different between the scientific methods versus the traditional means used currently in the area,” he said.
Sovula added that agriculture extension workers have been able to prove to the local farmers that employing the improved farming methods would ensure productivity compared to the old methods of farming.
He said introducing new farming approaches was good because previously the farmers could have relied on seeds from aid agencies. However nowadays farmers were taught on the best seeds handling that allowed them not to look for the seeds in each planting season.