World Bulletin / News Desk
The South Sudanese government has confirmed a possible outbreak of famine this year in the world's newest state, which has been shaken by months of violence.
"There is a possibility of famine," Deputy Minister of Agriculture Lily Albino Akol Akol told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
"We are pushing and working hard to make sure that we have a successful farming and agriculture season despite the fact that we were hit hard by the tragedy that happened on December 15," she said.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused sacked vice president Riek Machar of trying to overthrow his regime.
The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the U.N. estimating that some one million South Sudanese have been displaced by the recent violence.
Akol said that three states in Greater Upper Nile have been affected by the famine. "We are encouraging farming in the states that have relative security and peace," she added.
Akol blamed the current turmoil and flooding for the food deficiency in the country.
"Around November last year, we made an assessment on the food security. What we found was that production in most households in rural areas was high, for consumption and even surpluses, but these were affected by the floods," she said.
"Because of the floods, this year's production may not be high and to make it worse, this crisis will also affect production."
The deputy minister said that her ministry is planning to engage the internally displaced people (IDPs) in food production.
"For the IDPs, we have a plan we are embarking on with the Food and Agricultural Organization," Akol said, going on to say that most IDPs along the River Nile will be provided with fishing gears.
"Another is vegetable planting in the areas where the IDPs are. We are identifying the land and will give them vegetable seeds accordingly."
Akol said that plans were underway to boost food production in the country.
"For this agriculture season together with the Agriculture Bank, every state will get ten tractors," she said. "They will be given to farmers on a hire basis at low cost and we are asking the farmers to organize into cooperatives in order to maximize their production."
Akol said that her ministry will provide seeds to most farmers to produce their yields. "This will help in the increase of production".
Last week, the South Sudanese cabinet approved 5 million SSP (nearly $1.58 million) to purchase seeds.
The deputy minister called on South Sudanese farmers in states that have not been hit by famine to cultivate their farmlands to avoid exacerbating the crisis in the country.
"We have to exert more efforts knowing that the three states are not reliable and if we focus on the seven states, the three states will be supported," she said, going on to say that the Agriculture Ministry will monitor this year's farming.
"What we can confirm is that there is displacement and the people have been affected and many need humanitarian assistance and intervention as soon as possible," Akol said.
"We are trying to make cultivation go on and we have enough food," she said. "As we speak now we don't have food items to ship to the IDPs, it's the UN and other humanitarian organizations doing this.”Last Mod: 18 Nisan 2014, 11:45