22 May 2018

 

Yei Lawmakers Threaten To Sue NGOs Over Distribution Of Poor Quality Seeds To Farmers

A Law Maker in Yei River State legislative assembly is threatening to sue the Minister of Agriculture and NGOs dealing with the food security and livelihood cluster to court for having distributed dead seeds to over 2,000 farmers in Yei River State since March this year.

By Daniel Friday Martin

 YEI, 06 May 2018 [Gurtong] –
Daniel Lokoroto Arama an MP representing Lasu Payam who moved the motion in the parliament told fellow parliamentarians in the house that farmers have wasted their efforts planting but ended up frustrated after “no seed germination”.

“As far as food security is concerned, our farmers are going to be endangered because of this practice of giving unviable seeds to our people. This is not the first time farmers are experiencing challenges in the State. They were given sorghum seeds but when they planted them they grew into wild sorghum out of this region and under normal practices, these NGOs giving fake seeds deserve to be sued in court” he said.

Lokoroto says they expected the Ministry of Agriculture and its partners to conduct pre-planting seed germination test before giving to the farmers to avoid wasted energy exerted on tilling the land. Lokoroto says he is worried that Yei is most likely to face food shortage in the first crop season harvest.

“With this practice, we are worried that with the current challenges, Yei is going to experience hunger this year because late crop planting will be prone to pest attack and destruction. We have the committee for agriculture in the parliament to pursue legal measures against the Ministry of Agriculture and the concerned NGOs because our people whom we are representing are crying” Loroto added.

Charles Lokosang, one of the farmers in Yei River County, says he tried without success to plant maize and beans on a one hectare piece of land.  Lokosang says he feels frustrated that he won’t be able to produce any food this season.

 “I am very frustrated that I have planted three times in my land but all the seeds I planted could not germinate. What we want is for the NGOs to bring us good seeds so that we can produce our own food.” He stressed.

Lokosang also says the NGOs distributed to farmers some seeds of vegetable varieties that are not familiar to farmers in Yei River County and are not found in the Africa region in general.
A visibly angry Lokosang accuses the government and NGOs supporting food security of failing to identify and meet the needs of local farmers.

Another farmer, Clement Ayume John, says   he fears many households in Yei River County will have nothing to eat in the coming months given that the seeds they received won’t germinate.
“If NGOs wants to support us, they should give us the right quality of seeds so that we chase hunger far away and if that does not happen, hunger is going to be a subject of the day in Yei” said Ayume.

For her part, Yei River State Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, Juan Catharine confirmed that three NGOs distributed a huge quantity of food crops and vegetable seeds to farmers inside Yei town and the rural areas of Yei River State.

“Indeed, I want to say here that some NGOs have distributed these seeds to the farmers and I am yet to investigate which NGO distributed this seeds to the farmers and we will find out through our extension workers as to why they did that without considering seed germination test before handing over to the farmers” said Juan.

She says the NGOs that distributed the seeds in Yei include United Methodist Committee on relief (UMCOR), Terres Des Hommes (TDH) and Plan international-South Sudan.

Dara Elisa is the program manager for UMCOR and food security cluster for coordinator in Yei River State. He says his organization has received complaints from local farmers in the area. Elisa apologized to the farmers, saying aid agencies that distributed bad seeds will be held accountable and asked to compensate the farmers.

 “This has been an issue raised in our cluster meetings and we have encouraged our partners to carry out seed germination test before it’s given to the farmers. We will convene a meeting and ask those partners who gave the seeds to procure additional seeds to compensate the farmers and we will ensure that seeds of high standard are given to the farmers so that they continue with their production.” Dara Stressed.

Terres Des homes or TDH is an international NGO supporting farmers with seeds and tools in Yei River County. Anais Guerin, TDH’s Program Manager in Yei River State, says her organization has distributed good quality seeds. She denies allegations by farmers that NGOs have distributed expired seeds.

 “We have distributed already 1,500 vegetable seeds and tools and we are currently distributing 3,000 crop seeds to communities. What we received from our technical team on the ground is that the germination rate of our crop and vegetable seeds is 95 percent and we are also still distributing and we cannot know the next germination rate.” She added.

Yei River State is known as the food basket for South Sudan because of its fertile soil and favorable climate.

 

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