Yei farmers complain tractors sitting idle as rainy season begins

YEI (31 Mar.)

Farmers in Yei River county of Central Equatoria state have raised concerns over the delayed distribution of tractors to the community.

Earlier this year, the office of the president has sent at least twenty new tractors to Yei for the purpose of boosting food production and fight food insecurity, but so far they have not been put to use.

According to farmers, the absence of mechanised farming stands a major obstacle for them. They demanded that the government deploy the tractors as the rainy season begins.

“The rain has started and we are planning to begin as early as expected,” said one farmer. “If they are there just redundant without any use then the purpose of bringing them to the county has no meaning.”

The farmer added: “This year is a year of hunger and this hunger cannot be forced out using small hoes. The private tractors are rented out at a rate of 1,200 SSP which is so expensive for the farmers to afford.”

The farmer said the tractors were not brought to Yei to sit in town.

The farmer added that he blames the delay on the appointed authorities of the proposed Yei River State.

“We thought the delay was because those days we were still under Juba, but now that we are under new Yei River state and things are brought closer, I really don’t understand the delay,” the farmer said.

The state minister for agriculture and forestry Huda Michael Laila said the tractors would be distributed very soon.

“Let them be patient because this time when we give out these tractors they must be managed properly and multiply themselves. One word I want to say to the farmers last year the production was not good because of the rain. This time we need to prepare so that we need to increase our productivity and produce enough food this year,” he said.

Dara Felix, a civil society activist working for centre for democracy and development, recommended the distribution of the tractors through organised cooperative societies.

Dara said institutionalising and personalising tractors by the government will lead to misuse without tangible output.

“Our experience has shown that most of these tractors coming to our country have ended up being personalised and disappeared,” Dara said. “This time we are of the opinion that these tractors will best benefit the farmers if they are handed over to the cooperatives.” 

“It is a call up on leadership locally to ensure that farmers are organised in cooperatives,” Dara continued. “Secondly it’s important that these farmers develop sustainability plan. If it breaks down should we call President Salva Kiir to repair it? We need to think about sustainability plans so that when they are given to them should be able to work.”

Yei lies in South Sudan’s green belt region which has highly fertile soils.

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