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Jonglei awaits lower than expected harvest

By John Actually

September 18, 2011 (BOR) - The harvest in South Sudan’s Jonglei state will be lower than expected this year according the state’s agriculture minister as floods have submerged large areas of farm land in northern counties.

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A child in Kuoingo village in Jonglei stans infront of some of this year’s harvest. Sept. 18, 2011 (ST)

Mayen Ngor, the minister of agriculture told journalists in his office on Saturday that around 4,000 hectors of land had been flooded in Twic East, Uror and Akobo counties.

The late onset of rains earlier this year delayed the plantation of crops. Ngor also said that inexperience and lack of labour would contribute to low production this year.

Insecurity caused by rebel activities, cattle raiding and child abduction in the state have also setback agricultural production, the minister said.

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Jonglei state’s inspector for planning and programming in the Ministry for Agriculture, Angelo Lemor looking a farm in Kuoingo village. Sept. 18, 2011 (ST)

Ngor plans to introduce more mechanised to farming, saying that the state government is looking for funds to buy tractors by the end of the year. He said a decentralised national system of agriculture would reach the grass roots by next year.

According to the minster, 26 extension officers from each of 11 counties of Jonglei are under training. Field extension officers are trained to give agricultural advise to farmers and report to the ministry if there are any problems facing farmers such as outbreaks of disease. They act as middlemen between the ministry concerned and the farmers on the ground.

Food insecurity is among the top challenges facing the state since last year when migration to urban areas increased due to conflict in Jonglei.

Food prices in Bor market are too high for low income earners.

Homeless children who left their parents in search of food and started living on the street are a common sight in that state capital.

Some villages visited by Sudan Tribune on Sunday show signs of having good yields despite the difficulties.

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A farm at Kuoingo village in Jonglei state. 18 Sept. 2011 (ST)

At Kuoingo a village in Makuach Payam [district], Awal Deng Kuol, said her village had managed to cultivate substantial crops including sorghum despite a constant fear of raiders and abductors.

She said they had finally seen the fruits of their labour.

Deng said the state government should do more to protect farmers during the harvest season by deploying troops to rural areas.

She said her community had been troubled by rumours of unknown gunmen maneuvering their territory.

(ST)