FAO in South Sudan

Training and provision of vegetable seed and tools empower farmers in Ikwoto

FAO is supporting farming communities in Ikwoto with vegetable seed and essential tools and training on sustainable vegetable production techniques.

By growing only wild vegetables and some cereals, Natalina Itiye has always faced hardships and lived a life in poverty.

Profits were never enough and she had to work part-time on a farm nearby to earn some extra money. Natalina lives in Lonyori, a small village in Ikwoto County, Eastern Equatoria, one of the poorest and most mountainous areas of South Sudan.

Natalina’s family used to produce only cereals like sorghum, maize, millet and a few other wild vegetables like jew's mallow – kudra or okra, but as she says “I had no money to feed my seven children and send them to school.”

In 2018, FAO in partnership with AVSI started supporting farming communities in the area by distributing vegetable seeds and farming tools to enable them kick-off their production and by training them on vegetable production techniques through demonstration gardens.

Natalina joined a group of 30 farmers being confident that growing vegetables would eventually help her secure a better life for her family. At a farmer's field school, she learned new farming techniques and put them into practice.

“My veggies are now growing right next to the cereals,” proudly says Natalina impressed by seeing that all the seeds she planted grew so fast. In early February 2020, she was able to harvest 50 kg of cowpea leaves and collard, abundant okra and tomatoes, and earn the equivalent of USD 150 by selling her produce at the market.

“I’ve discovered I'm a talented farmer & seller!” says Natalina. “I am producing more, eating better and selling my veggies at the market. I keep the extra money for school and the special occasions.”   

She was finally able to send her children to a school nearby to afford some basic items she doesn't usually dare to spend for her family.

Natalina’s household is one of 500 farming families in Ikwoto County benefitting from FAO’s support through a project funded by the European Union aimed at strengthening the resilience of pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in South Sudan cross-border areas. To this purpose, the project provides agricultural kits and extension support to farming and livestock communities to enhance their production, market linkages and income opportunities.

By adding vegetables to their production, families who previously relied only on cereals improved and diversified the diets and nutrition as well.

“We now have healthy food all year round,” says Natalina.

The European Union is one of the biggest and long-lasting contributors to FAO in South Sudan. With the project Strengthening the resilience of pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in South Sudan’s cross-border areas with Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, the EU helps FAO promote sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable populations by improving household food security, nutrition and income of South Sudanese. In this framework, in the last three years, the project has supported over 7 700 farming families providing them different inputs for income-generating activities.