South Sudan is one of the most fertile countries in the world; if properly farmed it could feed itself and its neighbouring countries, but it currently imports the majority of its food.
Years of civil war has meant that land and agricultural training in South Sudan have been neglected, ongoing conflict has prevented AID from starting an agriculture project in the country thus far. However, an opportunity has arisen in neighbouring Uganda where hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese have fled since conflict broke out in December 2013.
On arrival in Uganda, refugees are given a plot of land, on average 30x30m (1/5 acre) or 1/10th of a football pitch, as well as basic rations. But often this is not enough to sustain a family. AID is working with Life Gospel Ministries, a Ugandan NGO run by South Sudanese pastor Thomas Lubari (left), to train South Sudanese refugees in agriculture techniques so they can make the most of their plot of land and develop a livelihood. This is done with the long-term hope that they will one day be able to return to their country and develop its fertile land.
Thomas trains refugees using a method created by the organisation Foundations for Farming (FfF), which seeks to farm in a way that is pleasing to God. This is not only an excellent farming method but also gives participants the opportunity to hear the Gospel.
The project was launched in February 2017 with 50 participants being selected to begin farming. They were provided with hoes and seed, as well as some further training, before beginning to work their land. By May 2017 most had healthy and full crops (right). A further 50 joined the scheme in the summer. As of July 2018, there are 210 farmers involved in the project.
70% of participants are South Sudanese and 30% Ugandan (a ratio laid down as a condition by the Ugandan government to NGOs working with refugees).
Once the crops are grown, Thomas buys them from the farmers, thus providing an income for them. He then sells it on en masse. Any profit is pumped back into the project.
As well as Thomas’ general oversight, several ‘extension workers’ (left) have been appointed to oversee the running of the small farms and report to him.