National, News

Cassava farming pays South Sudanese refugees

By Jurugo Emmanuel Ogasto


South Sudanese living in Pagirinya refugee settlement in Adjumani District of Uganda, are reaping big from cassava farming.

The success followed an agreement between UNHCR and host community in 2022, to donate land for refugees who have shown interest in farming.

More than 100 refugees acquired land under the project for cassava plantations.

The host community donated 68 acres of land to the group, comprising more than 70 members, the majority of whom are South Sudan refugees.

Encouraged by the land offer, the refugees planted cassava, which they have started harvesting, both for sale and for home consumption.

Mondia Alfred, one of the farmers, underscored hardship South Sudanese refugees encountered to acquire land from the host community.

He said the host community normally gives virgin lands, then later they take it back.

Mondia said he had to adjust to living on 30 by 30 meters of land offered by the government and depending on the monthly food and cash rations donated by the World Food Programme.

“When I arrived in Pagirinya, I felt that the world had now moved with me. It was not easy for me and my family,’’ he said.

“Most of the host community offers the land and later takes it back before you achieve what you want,’’ he decried.

The 46-year-old father of eight children was, however, lucky to have received some training in kitchen gardening. A year later, he utilized his small land to grow vegetables to supplement the family’s diet. But that wasn’t going to be enough to help out the large family.

“On the small land that was given to me by UNHCR, I could plant green vegetables like dodo,’’ he added.

Mondia was, however, tasked with searching for land from the host community to embark on a large-scale commercial cassava-growing project.

Fortunately, in July last year, host community members of Pagirinya village generously donated the land to the group, which comprised 99 members, the majority of whom are South Sudan refugees.

Another refugee, Angua Joy, 28, who fled from Nimule in 2016, said that through growing cassava outside the refugee settlement, she has become self-reliant.
She noted that unlike in the past, when they would eat food once a day, this time around the family eats three times a day, adding that she has also shifted her children to private schools.

“When you harvest from your farm, it is better than buying or waiting from UNHCR; we all know the situation in the refugee settlement,’’ she expressed.

Food shortages remain a major setback among refugees in the West Nile Region.

Recently, the humanitarian aid agency WFP temporarily introduced rice for the refugees to supplement maize, which is already scarce.

Dzaipi Sub- County alone hosts some 99,601 refugees, mostly from South Sudan, against the population of the host community, which stands at 22,215.


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