FAO in South Sudan

Natalia Itwari; A story of determination; Her farm has been adopted for teaching other famers

Natalia Itwari is a farmer in Torit who specializes in producing Okra, cucumber, watermelon and Sukuma.

“I hate begging for money from parents and relatives when l can work for myself,” Says 30-year-old Natalia Itwari, a resident of Torit in Eastern Equatoria who has decided to go full time into farming with support from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Natalia received support under Building Resilient Livelihoods to Threats and Crises in South Sudan a project funded by Norway.

Once she made her decision to venture into farming, Natalia started looking for a piece of land to translate her wish into practice.

“It was by the grace of God that l got this farm, after asking around from many people here in Torit, someone advised me to approach the Roman catholic Priests at a local church, St Peter and Paul. The Priest showed me this piece of land very close to a water source and l thanked God for being so kind to me.” She said.

After acquiring the land, Natalia started working on it without delay.

She approached the FAO Torit office for support. After listening to her story and seeing her burning desire to start work on her farm, a field visit was made by FAO to assess the potential of her farm.

FAO Torit Extension Assistant, Sabit Lokosang Lemi, narrated that when they visited Natalia’s farm for the first time, they were encouraged by the neat way in which she had done her land preparation. 

“I saw the potential in her and knew that she would do a lot better if we gave her training and support with seeds. Her land preparation was very well done showing someone with immense potential to do better if we gave her some training.” Said Lemi

“FAO supported me with, okra, sukuma, watermelon and cucumber seeds. I also received implements such as hoes, watering can, and more importantly, they took me for training in Osfaldo’s farm.” Says Natalia pointing in the direction of the other demonstration farm where FAO conducts training for farmers under this Norway project.

So impressed were the FAO field officers in Torit with Natalia’s work ethic that they are now using her farm as a demonstration farm.

“The training l received gave me knowledge on how to make the best decision over which crops to go into, I chose to plant okra, cucumber, watermelon and sukuma because they take a shorter period of time to mature”. She continued narrating.

Natalia has created employment for local people as her farm now employs four people including his own brother.

She takes her ready farm produce to the market and currently selling her watermelon for anything between 3000 to 5000 SSP depending on the size. She showed our team the different sizes of her ready for the market watermelon and cucumbers. 

Natalia took her ready produce to the Torit Agricultural Show held in the town where framers from Eastern Equatoria State came to showcase their produce. Natalia happened to be the only farmer with watermelon making her stand very busy as many people wanted to buy the watermelon to help them cool off from the heat in Torit.

Natalia was named a winner at the show, and she was awarded a certificate of excellence.

Speaking to Natalia, one cannot help but realise that she is a young woman who believes in hard work and does not want to be dependent on donations and handouts. Asked what challenges she was facing in her farming activities, she responded:

“ You see l have this petrol powered generator, it makes my production costs go up due to the high costs of fuel. I heard that FAO is supporting farmers with solar water pumps. I pray that they consider me in future. If this happens my business will grow rapidly”. She said.