FAO seeds distribution in South Sudan during COVID-19: A young female farmer receives quality seeds for the planting season

Jacqueline Tuon is 21 years old and already the mother of three children, having given birth to her first at just 14. The family lives in northern Bari Payam, in Central Equatoria State, where in early April FAO distributed seeds and essential farming tools to 500 households as part of the Organization’s Emergency Livelihood Response Programme (ELRP) in South Sudan. With restrictions imposed on the movement of personnel and equipment due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, FAO is supporting and working with the Government of South Sudan to find new ways to distribute seeds to farmers during the ongoing planting season. Without these seeds, the most vulnerable people could be brought to the brink of famine in the coming months.

Jacqueline takes care of her children alone, after her husband passed away last year from a disease they could not afford to treat properly; without the money to hospitalize him, the care provided by the local doctor was not enough to save his life. Her parents also passed away, and the only family she has left is her brother–in-law and her children. Jacqueline relies on agriculture to feed her family. She owns a piece of land of 0.5 feddan (about 1 acre), but she’s not able to plant it all as it’s too much work to manage alone. She usually plants maize, sorghum, and also some vegetables such as okra and tomatoes. The harvest, however, never puts enough food on the table for the family, and every year they suffer from periodic hunger, especially in the dry months of January and February when the previous season’s harvest has been exhausted.

Flooding during the rainy season, pest infestations such as the destructive Fall Armyworm, and a lack of quality seeds and labour to help her plant are among the factors limiting people like Jacqueline’s harvest. On top of this, the recent invasion of desert locust continues to sound alarm bells for farmers in South Sudan and could cause an unprecedented threat to the food security millions of people across the country.

Thanks to FAO, Jacqueline received high-quality crop seeds, including 5 kg of sorghum, 5 kg of maize and 3 kg of cowpea, complemented by vegetable seeds such as tomatoes, pumpkin, okra and watermelon  and farming tools. This support will allow her to plant during the main farming season, which in Equatoria usually lasts until the end of April.  Jacqueline said she will plant the vegetable seeds in the garden next to her house and when they mature, she will use them for home consumption. “This year I will have enough food to feed my children, and I am also going to store some seeds for planting during second season in July.” To ensure she can make the most profit from seeds provided by FAO, this year she is also planning to hire her brother in-law to help plant her entire half feddan. 

Despite the ongoing coronavirus restrictions, in 2020 FAO is committed to reaching 4.8 million vulnerable people in South Sudan with livelihood support. The ELRP for South Sudan is funded by the Governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (through the Department for International Development [DFID]), the United States of America (through the United States Agency for International Development [USAID]), the Netherlands, Norway, the United Nations Central Emergency Fund (CERF) and the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund.

Source : Fao