Governors should not forget food security
The ongoing fifth Governors Forum should not end without addressing the issue of protracted food insecurity in the country.
There are undoubtedly high hopes as the state administrators take notes on how to improve various sectors in their areas. But in such a hype, there is the likelihood that some crucial areas worth discussing could be relegated to the periphery, unknowingly.
They should push for an increment in the national budget for agriculture to end the persistent food insecurity in the country. We remember in the second governors’ forum held in 2012, how the governors called on the national government to commit 10 per cent of the overall annual budget to agriculture, to achieve food security in the nation by 2014.
But since then, this has not been achieved due to several factors, including war and a lack of seriousness to empower the local farmers in the rural areas.
Despite being an independent nation, the country is still dependent on imports of food commodities from the neighbouring countries to feed its population. According to the presentations made by international experts during the second governors’ forum, the country imported $44.5 billion worth of food items from the neighbouring countries in 2010 alone, but it exported none.
For almost 12 years, this situation has not changed as the country still relies on neighbouring countries and relief agencies to feed its citizens.
As the forum focuses on the security and implementation of the revitalised peace agreement, the governors should not forget food security to improve crops, livestock, and fisheries as the essential issues for deliberations to rescue our citizens from protracted farming.
There is a real need for the country to liberate its citizens from the sickness of hunger that has been chronic in the country. In some parts of the country, like Eastern Equatoria State, there are already reports of looming famine in Kapoeta, Lafon, Budo, and parts of Torit counties. Meanwhile, in Fangak County, in Jonglei State, the commissioner appealed for food relief from the World Food Programme, to avert hunger, and most flood-affected states are likely to experience a similar situation.
The governors need to devise a means to lift our citizens in the rural areas from depending on relief food. This could be done by increasing the budget for agriculture and providing the necessary support to the farming communities in the states.
However, there are exceptional circumstances, where a person or a group of people can depend on relief food as a short term fix for their survival but not depend on it for their entire life as has been the case with our communities in South Sudan.
Hunger and malnutrition must be ended by encouraging rural people to produce their own food. The communities that depend on farming should be supported to produce and encourage food that they will in turn supply to communities that do not take farming as their economic activity.
We must produce our own food for our survival and the growth of the country. Secondly, agriculture has been proven as one of the most reliable sectors in addressing the issue of youth employment.