By John Actually
November 19, 2012 (BOR) - The governor of Jonglei state, Kuol Manyang, threatened on Monday to legislate against idleness in his state, after being told by women’s groups that many men are not doing their fair share to produce food and provide for their families.
- A women’s agriculture group in Bor marching to the Jonglei Governor’s office with samples of their produce, 19 Nov. 2012 (ST)
Food security is a major issue in troubled Jonglei state, where unpredictable rain and insecurity in some areas hinder efforts to increase agricultural production.
Large areas of arable land in Jonglei, South Sudan’s largest state, remain un-farmed due to rebel activity in Pibor County and insecurity caused by cycles of cattle raiding. The state launched a disarmament campaign earlier this year and this month outlawed civilians from carrying arms.
Governor Manyang, announced his plans to ban laziness on Monday while addressing women’s agricultural groups, who presented their produce to the Jonglei State Council of Ministers.
Manyang urged citizens in Jonglei to work hard to reduce food insecurity in order to make their livelihoods more sustainable and asked non-governmental organisations working in Jonglei to support women who are undertaking agricultural activities.
“Food insecurity will be challenged by our own people through work”, said Manyang.
Susan Lith Aloung, a member of the Jonglei legislative assembly, who led the women’s agriculture groups at the meeting, pointed out that only women cultivate in many communities of Jonglei, and accused men of “sitting under the trees playing games”.
“We want to encourage men to join us because all of us need food”, said the MP, who represents Athoch South Constituency number 27.
Manyang urged the women not to give up, pledging that his government will introduce a law against idleness in the state to ensure that “every body, including adults to work for themselves".
“Don’t be discouraged by men’s idleness, I will legislate a law that will penalise those who sit under the trees playing the games, waiting for women to bring them food”, he said. “We don’t need to depend on relief services all the time”.
Idleness is one of the Governor’s pet hates. He previously outlawed the playing of games during working hours, which, again, was mainly aimed at the male population. But those who wanted to play games rather than work, now do so in secret rather than in public.
Manyang said his state will build industries for processing food for home consumption once production improves. South Sudan heavily relies on imports for it food and other goods and the country has struggled with inflation since an oil dispute with Sudan has deprived the government of vital hard currency since January.
The women pledged to fight hunger in Jonglei, asking the state government and agriculture-supporting-NGOs to provid them with more tools and green houses.
“We want to fight hunger in our state”, Aloung said.
“What we need is to reduce food insecurity in our state, this is the work of our women”, she added.