By Ngor Deng Matem
National Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in partnership with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has inaugurated rice scheme in Aweil County, Northern Bahar El Ghazel state.
The introduction of new rice varieties revamps a historical Aweil rice production scheme which was established in 1944.
According to Northern Bahr El Ghazal State’s (NBGs) Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the 79 years old scheme, covered an area of 11,000 feddans.
The Director General of FAO and WFP, Dr. Qu Dongyu, expressed their readiness to support local food production in South Sudan.
“We need to deliver but not to talk, and therefore we need to promote sufficient production of food in South Sudan, and supporting the rice scheme is one of them.” He said, “With one million acres, this rice can feed the whole of East Africa, the Director General of FAO and WFP, Qu Dongyu, assured.
Meanwhile, national minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Josephine Lagu said her ministry is working on improving the scheme.
“And the Aweil rice scheme is at the top among the 13, 24, or 15 schemes we have in the country,” she continued. “Today I am very happy to see the rice production project progressing very well here in Aweil.”
African Development Bank funded the revival of Aweil rice scheme to encourage and increase food production in the country,” said Josephine.
The minister of Livestock and fisheries, Mr. Onyoti Adigo also backed the rice scheme revamping project.
“We will try our level best to support the rice scheme so that we can do exportation in the next ten years. We need capacity for our technical staff so that they can use the skills very well,” he stated.
Onyoti, however, appealed for the support of FAO, WFP, and the Africa Development Bank, to develop windmills and solar systems to back the irrigation project.
Northern Bahar Ghazel State governor, Tong Akeen Ngor appreciated FAO and WFP for initiating a research center for the Rice Scheme.
”I appreciate the FAO and WFP for initiating the Aweil rice scheme as a research center,” Governor Tong excitedly said.
He said NBGs is the most peaceful state in South Sudan, and he appreciates the partners for their contribution.
Mr. Santino Deng, the Director for Administration of the Aweil Rice Scheme, outlines the challenges facing the rice scheme’s production.
“This trail of 13 varieties of rice shall help the production, but we are facing a lack of trained technical staff to manage and run the scheme, and therefore we are requesting FAO to support our technical staff with technical skills,” Santino urged.