By Tong Akok Anei Mawien
With regards to the National Bureau of Standard’s aflatoxin findings on the maize flour imported from Uganda, if National disasters are counted, this is a leading national disaster; roughly 70% to 80% of South Sudanese rely on maize flour imported from Uganda; even deep down in our villages, it is consumed there. If aflatoxin was just detected this year, how safe was the maize flour consumed four or two years ago? How safe were the other commodities not tested, and if high risk was previously detected, how many people did this aflatoxin affect in the past ten years? How many people will this toxic maize flour imported from Uganda affect in the next ten or more years to come? Definitely, many people, because this Ugandan-imported maize flour is the daily meal to many South Sudanese. Why do we agree as a country and independent people to be pulled by a broken rope into slaughterhouses, just on the basis of a dear political bilateral relationship that we turn to cast on deep trust?
One of the great thinkers and cartoonists, Adija Achuil, keeps alerting us to the impact of these imports (he could be interpreted as saying, they are exporting coffins of expired food and other goods—South Sudan has become a dumping site for expired and other fake goods), but we turn deaf ears to him. One of the effects of aflatoxin is related to kidney failure, among others, and just look at the rough statistics of kidney death-related cases in South Sudan in the past five years. Nevertheless, know this: the leftovers of food from Ugandan maize flour do not rot or get eaten by dogs; they just dry up. That means there is a problem with it because microorganisms do not work on it, and the food that microorganisms do not feed on is contaminated or else not worth consumption by humans either. This is just an observation from a layman, and if investigated in a scientific manner, I think the story will follow suit. Our country has opened a lot of doors and windows for foreigners to be the deep actors in our markets without strict rules and monitoring, and this is just in the name of East Africa memberships. We have given the opportunity that is not rendered to any South Sudanese outside there—how many South Sudanese boda-boda riders, street vendors, or retailers are there in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, etc.?
Why do we stick to toxic food imported from Uganda, we have grains in Renk, the only lacking is a mill, juts plant a grinding mills and the food is ready for us, we have Aweil rice schemes, just improve and modernized it and our food is ready, we have a fertile land in Lainya, Terekeka, Morobo, Rumbek that we can place a schemes that produces a large amount of maize and our food is ready for us , South Sudan is a gifted land with rich soil, why do we have to leave our food with us and buy the toxic one that is killing us or will kill us_ the government of South Sudan has to prioritize agriculture, not just agriculture in paper but a practical agriculture that will produce a real grains, a real food not the practice in the paper that will produce a roadmap and ends up in the minster or director desk, we have everything, we have tools with us, we have labour and we have the fertile soil, we should not just watch ourselves dyeing in one way or another, the government must do something to stop buying food from outside.