The next step in the quest to achieve food security in South Sudan

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Saturday, 07 February 2009 00:00
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Manyok Biar is a NSV regular contributor

(Texas, U.S.A) - Although I am too busy to write this time, I must force myself to write an article about the next step that the Government of South Sudan can take in its quest for food security in South Sudan. I am excited that the government has distributed tractors for agriculture as reported by Lupai in his article published by Sudan Tribune.

The timing for the distribution of tractors is perfect. The communities will now prepare themselves for work of the year.

The next step that government should now take is to establish a way that it will ensure the success in food production. Having tractors is just a fraction of what needs to be done. People who receive these tractors need to spell out exactly how they are going to use them. There should be a laid down plan of at least three years. This must have been done before the distribution of tractors because that is the first step that the government should take. I am just adding my ideas to what may already be in place. Maintenance of the tractors should not be the responsibility of the government within the coming two years if clear plans are put in place.

Even though the tractors are already distributed, the government still needs to do need assessment to find out exactly what the communities need, if it has not been done. How ready are the communities to do business in agriculture? What areas do they want the government to assist them in the first year of production?

What plans do they have about the market of their products? What size of the market are they aiming at?

If the community is not sure of these questions, then it needs somebody to train that community on the ways that it can succeed in agricultural business. Food security only might be the focus of some communities who do not see the possibilities of doing business in agriculture. Others might think that the government will be taking care of the tractors forever. Still others might think that what they are doing is a government business that they are not supposed to be serious about. The serious ones will put the tractors into good use.

Another importance of need assessment is to let the government serve the people based on what the people want. Nobody will refuse the idea of investing in agriculture, but the way the people should do it must come from them with the support of government planners and agricultural experts, even if it means hiring them from outside Sudan.

The communities that receive the tractors must show the resources they have. Resources here do not refer to money. These resources refer to people who will operate the tractors, people who have knowledge in agriculture, stakeholders in the community who will follow the implementation of the plan, agricultural land, irrigation system, and of course state authority.

If a community lack some of these things, then the government should consider ways of assisting such a community, especially when it comes to the need for experts and planners.

After the resources are clearly shown, the government should know the laid down activities of the community that has received the tractor. The communities must demonstrate what they will do from February to December this year. They should also show the activities of next year. The activities must be clear enough to show the success of the program. This is not to punish the communities, but to help them in planning if they are not sure about how to implement the program because this is the first time a program like this is done in South Sudan after the war.

After the communities have shown the activities they will engage in this year and next year, then they can project their expected short term and long term outcomes. Short term outcome should show how the production of next year will reduce the shortage of food in the community. It must also be shown how many families might benefit from the program next year. The long term program will show how the community will make money out of its agricultural production. The process of accountability must also be spelled out clearly so that those who will be given the responsibilities know that they are accountable to somebody for the success of the program.

These plans might not look realistic this time, but they are the base for success. The community will work to achieve them. The government will also help if there are obstacles that the community faces in achieving the laid down objectives. Otherwise, funding the uncertain program would be a waste of resources.

Things like what the government is now doing in South Sudan are good investments for the government. If the government waits until people are hungry, then it could be very expensive to feed them. So it is good to deal with the situation before it becomes a problem. However, if good plans are not put into place, then good and inexpensive programs become really expensive and unachievable. This is the reason why I am adding my views to what might already be in place. It is better to add on to the existing plan than to assume that it is already in place.

*The writer of this article is a Graduate Student at Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA. He can be reached at
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