ROME – Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that it was accelerating efforts to get vital seeds, tools and other materials to some of the vulnerable farmers in South Sudan, as the main planting season begins.
Mr Karim Bah, FAO’s Emergency Response Manager in South Sudan, said on Thursday in Rome that the organisation has a small window to provide farmers with the inputs they need to start planting.
He said this has become imperative because this was the only opportunity to plant cereals this year and without seeds now, they would have to wait another year to plant.
“This means they will not see another cereal harvest until the end of 2016,” he said.
Bah noted that 18 flights loaded with seeds, tools and fishing kits are leaving Juba each day.
He said FAO was working to get these materials into farmers’ hands in time for planting, mostly in conflict-hit areas of Upper Nile and Jonglei states, where hunger and malnutrition levels are particularly high.
Bah said in the last few days, over 100 tonnes of inputs have been flown from Juba to local airstrips.
He said this represent just a portion, of those destined to reach over 175,000 food-insecure farming families in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei by the end of May.
Bah noted that the current wave of fighting came at a crucial time for farmers, who have depleted their food stocks and have only the next few weeks to plant their crops.
He said the airlifts are part of FAO’s wider efforts to provide conflict-affected and food-insecure families in South Sudan with a means to produce their own food and build more resilient livelihoods.
Bah said FAO would also support 2.8 million people throughout South Sudan in 2015 by providing a combination of vegetable, crop and fishing kits, as well as other kinds of support.
“The crop kits contain cereal seeds of sorghum, cowpea, maize, groundnut and sesame, which are sufficient to plant 1.3 hectares per family.
“The recipient households can be expected to harvest 1,360 kg of cereals in September/October, enough to feed their families for five months,’’ he added.
The emergency response manager stressed that FAO has also carried out widespread livestock vaccination campaigns during the dry season.
He said this was aimed at targeting animals based in the cattle camps before they start migrating as the rains begin.
“So far, FAO have reached 2 million animals in 2015, protecting the main social and economic asset of hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese agro-pastoralists, as well as safeguarding public health from the spread of animal diseases,” he said.
Bah said the agency has facilitated a meeting between the veterinary authorities of Uganda and South Sudan to discuss cooperation for the control and prevention of trans-boundary animal diseases.
According to him, this meeting is part of FAO’s efforts to control livestock disease outbreaks. (PANA/NAN)