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Field visit to Bahr el Ghazal witnesses continued impact of FAO programmes in region
On the 26th May 2014, Dr. Sue Lautze, Head of FAO in South Sudan and the UN’s Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, visited the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region in South Sudan. The trip began in Rumbek, Lakes State and continued to Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Western Bahr el Ghazal States.
The delegation met with Government officials, UN and NGO partners, FAO field staff, local farmers as well as fisherfolk. The visit included a Government delegation made up of the National Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Tourism, Animal Resources, Fisheries, Cooperatives, and Rural Development, Honorable Lily Albino Akol, and the Director-General of Agricultural Production and Extension, Dr. George Leju.
Additionally, the delegation assessed FAO’s ongoing development programmes in the region. Although the focus of FAO’s work in recent months has focused on the impact of the humanitarian crisis in conflict-affected states such as Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity States, it remains important for FAO to focus on less affected states as well. The Greater Bahr el Ghazal region in particular is an area where protecting crop production capacity will be vital to the country’s food security through 2014 and into 2015.
“This region has a phenomenal role to play this season and the next, to increase food availability as much as possible for the country” said Lautze.
The visit also provided an opportunity to show the Government delegation the ongoing development programmes FAO is implementing in the region and provided an opportunity to forge stronger partnerships with the national and state Ministries of Agriculture, Forestry, Tourism, Animal Resources, Fisheries, Cooperatives, and Rural Development in South Sudan.
“It is important to keep development and transitional work going and expanding in these areas even as we must initiate plans for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of conflict-affected states,” added Lautze.
Among the many development programmes visited was the Maker Achel Farmer Field School in Aweil South, Northern Bahr el Ghazal. The farmer field school focuses on dry season vegetable growing and is also working on cassava stalk multiplication. The students expressed their gratitude as they were able to make a profit of 2 376 SSP (over USD 600) by selling the surplus of their crop last season. In Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal, local farmers travelled from Bazia payam to meet the delegation and shared their experiences from an FAO supported seed multiplication training that took place from March - May 2014.
The training program, with implementing partners from the Peace Corps Organization, gave 14 participants technical guidance on the seed multiplication process. Not only did they receive high germination reports for their seeds, they too were able to generate income by selling their seeds to local farmers. These are just two of many success stories on projects that FAO continues to support in the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region.