OpEd, Politics

South Sudan’s Missing Tractors and Lingering Food Crisis: A Call for Accountability and Action

Gama Hassan Oscas

In April 2015, the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, initiated a landmark event where one thousand tractors were handed over to the states and two administrative areas of Abyei and Pibor. This ambitious move aimed to improve food security and boost the nation’s economy through the revitalization of the agricultural sector. However, nearly a decade later, South Sudan remains heavily dependent on Uganda for food, and the fate of these one thousand tractors remains shrouded in mystery. This critical opinion news seeks to analyze the situation, question the whereabouts of the tractors, and address the underlying issues that have hindered South Sudan’s agricultural progress.

Since gaining semi-autonomy in 2005, agriculture has been severely neglected and sidelined in South Sudan. Despite the nation’s vast agricultural potential, little attention has been given to developing this sector, resulting in the country’s continued dependence on food imports. The agricultural sector has not received the necessary support and investment required to thrive, leading to a prolonged food crisis and economic challenges.

The ceremony on April 16, 2015, where one thousand tractors were handed over to the states and administrative areas, was a momentous event in South Sudan’s history. It was the government’s first tangible step towards fulfilling its pledges to enhance food security and boost the national economy. The people of South Sudan welcomed this initiative with optimism, hoping that it would pave the way for increased agricultural productivity and self-sufficiency in food production.

However, despite the initial optimism surrounding the provision of one thousand tractors, the question that now lingers in everyone’s mind is, “What happened to the tractors?” The absence of transparent information on the whereabouts and utilization of these tractors has fueled speculation and raised significant concerns about the government’s commitment to addressing food security challenges.

The public recalls the episode during the interim period when 600 tractors were bought, but their fate was tragic. These tractors were left unused and abandoned, becoming wrecks along Juba-Yei roads. Some were even dismantled and sold for income by blacksmiths. The fear now is that the same fate could befall the one thousand tractors from 2015, rendering them useless and failing to contribute to the nation’s agricultural needs.

The unbroken silence from the authorities regarding the one thousand tractors raises many questions about accountability. The citizens have the right to know the status of these tractors, considering the significant investment made in their procurement. Transparency is essential to build trust and confidence among the population, and it is the government’s responsibility to provide clear answers.

Close to ten years after the tractors’ handover, South Sudan continues to rely heavily on Uganda for food imports. This over-reliance not only burdens South Sudan’s economy but also undermines the nation’s potential for agricultural growth and self-sufficiency. It is evident that the one thousand tractors, if utilized effectively, could have made a substantial contribution to domestic food production and reduced dependence on foreign aid.

To overcome the current food crisis and unlock South Sudan’s agricultural potential, several urgent actions are required:

Transparent Reporting: The government must provide a comprehensive and transparent report on the status of the one thousand tractors and their utilization. Citizens have the right to know how their resources have been managed.

Accountability and Oversight: Independent oversight mechanisms should be established to ensure that the tractors are used for their intended purpose and not diverted for personal gain.

Strengthening Agricultural Policies: Clear and robust agricultural policies should be put in place to regulate tractor usage, promote sustainable farming practices, and support farmers in maximizing agricultural productivity.

Investment in Infrastructure: The government must prioritize infrastructure development, particularly in road networks, to ensure efficient transportation of tractors and agricultural produce.

Support for Farmers: Adequate support should be provided to farmers in the form of training, access to inputs, and credit facilities to enhance their productivity and livelihoods.

Therefore, the fate of the one thousand tractors provided to South Sudan nearly a decade ago remains uncertain, and the nation’s continued dependence on Uganda for food highlights the urgent need for action. The government must prioritize the agricultural sector, ensure transparency and accountability, and take decisive steps to address the challenges hindering agricultural growth. Only through concerted efforts and effective utilization of resources can South Sudan achieve food security, economic stability, and self-sufficiency in the years to come.

The author of this article is an advocate and can be reached on email: oscarsgama@gmail.com


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