24 Oct 2020

 

Can A Revitalised ‘Zande Scheme’ Re-vitalise Agro-Industry In South Sudan?

"...the Equatoria Forestry Company Ltd. is doing development in the area: harvesting and planting teak, sawing timber, experimenting with coffee, groundnuts, and simsim planting with prospects for future export."

Victor Lugala reports from Nzara:

I can only imagine the forest cover in this area during the wet season. The forest is still green though but drying graciously. The teak trees have been stripped naked of their leaves. Palm trees dot the landscape and pleasant to the eye during Lent. The soil is red and very fertile.

Tucked away in the Equatoria Greenbelt, as if quarantined from our overall urban madness, Nzara basks in her virgin beauty. In bygone years Nzara was synonymous with the Agro-industry complex, which was started by the British colonialist government in the 1940s/50s to supply the British Empire with raw materials such as cotton and teak. Initially known as the Zande scheme, it also produced coffee, sorghum, simsim.

 Years of war and utter neglect gave the agro-complex the abominable label of defunct. Everything has fallen to pieces including the ancient machinery, which used to manufacture textile. Attempts to revive the Zande scheme have come a cropper.

In its place, however, the Equatoria Forestry Company Ltd. is doing development in the area: harvesting and planting teak, sawing timber, experimenting with coffee, groundnuts, and simsim planting with prospects for future export. As a private sector it is a source of employment in this rural backyard.

 While illegal loggers have devastated forest reserves in most parts of Greater Equatoria, EFC seems to keep the bad fellows in check.

For any agricultural produce to meet international standards for export, it means the improvement of the quality of seeds. Gone are the days when some cash crops could take a few years before they could be harvested. Nowadays improved seeds take a shorter time to harvest.

Unfortunately, South Sudan lacks a research centre to help in growing and multiplying seeds, which are conducive for our soil.

It seems the tsetse fly, which devastated parts of Western Equatoria during the war and before has been decimated drastically. The fly causes sleeping sickness, and if not treated in humans it can fatally affect the nervous system.

In the absence of the tsetse fly, Nzara has the potential to introduce cross-breed cattle which can yield more milk and quality beef, and even domesticate buffalo like in Asia, which could be used for ploughing fields or as a means of transporting agricultural produce.

At the Equatoria Forestry Company Ltd. agricultural development is taking place, complete with modern machinery. The company has been touted as South Sudanese, but the chairman and founder is a Western European who is making things move in the right direction.

 

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05/03/2020, 8:26 PM
 - Posted by Jacob Akol
In Kuacjok Elementary and Intermediate schools in 1950s and early 1960s, we received pyramids of brown sugar for our mass-cooked tea. We knew it as Nzara sugar, even though many of us had little idea where exactly Nzara was located. I had the chance to visit the place in late 1970s and also when the war was still on in 1990s. Then Juba based “Project Development Unit” had comprehensive reports of how the Nzara Scheme and other cash crop projects like Kinnafe in Tonj and Rice in Aweil could be revived. I understand these almost came to fruition by the time Bona Manual became a minister in in the High Executive Council; but then the war soon restarted. The potential is great.
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