Agriculture: A source of income without limitation

Gender & Equality
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South Sudan, which is the size of Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi joined together, is one of the few countries in the world blessed with lots of natural resources that include highly fertile soils and conducive climates for agriculture. 

South Sudan, which is the size of Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi joined together, is one of the few countries in the world blessed with lots of natural resources that include highly fertile soils and conducive climates for agriculture. 


The country has the lowest human population density and the largest area size in the whole of East Africa. The total population is estimated at only 12.7% of the cumulative total populations of the three above mentioned countries.


Practically, what should the high soil fertility, conducive agro-ecologies and low human population density mean to the people of South Sudan? They have enough land that can be used for agriculture to fight hunger and rampant poverty both at home and in the East African region; grow and strengthen national economy; and push the country to a higher level of development. Is this really what happens on the ground? Not really!


Agriculture remains under developed, practiced traditionally at a small scale level for subsistence by mainly the poorest social class while many South Sudanese citizens, especially the literate, are only interested in white-collar jobs with several others looking for an opportunity to become ministers, governors, Members of Parliament (MPs) or Commissioners. Most South Sudanese citizens believe that a political position is a greener pasture. That may be true in one way or another, but its sustainability remains questionable.


In reality, agriculture offers a better opportunity to sustainable wealth creation than any of the political positions except when privileges during office tenure are enjoyed in an abnormal and immoral way, which, of course, is dependent on one’s mind set and morality.


Agriculture offers an incomparable opportunity to unlimited financial earning sustainably in time – income without limitation. It is in fact upon a farmer to set limit to his/her financial earning per year as opposed to employment. In the latter, one’s annual financial earning is always well defined and calculated, no matter how hard working the person might be.


However, through agriculture one can collect enough money from consumers as his/her produce allows. Imagine a farmer substituting today the imported tomatoes, sweet potatoes and Irish potatoes sold, for instance, in Konyokonyo market in Juba with his/her farm produce, how much money could this farmer be getting in a year? Moreover, farm produce in South Sudan is not subjected to taxes yet. Is this not a golden opportunity for citizens, specially the unemployed, to make money which is being ignored?


To punish the newly born nation of South Sudan following its independence on July 9th, 2011, the government of Sudan cut off all its food exportats to South Sudan. Still no one, however, considered this as a market opportunity to tap and make best use of by producing to fill the food deficit created in the local market demand which can be valued at millions of dollars in a year. 


Why should South Sudan rely on Sudan for food while it has all the potential needed to produce food with surplus for export? Is the money people use by only focusing on political positions not more than the one earned when accessing those positions? Did we fight to become ministers, governors, MPs or Commissioners?


One thing to note is that money is not about the position one holds but how sharp and business-minded one is and the productive management of the financial earning. Creating wealth through an economic activity is the only way to build the economy of the country, take the country to a higher level of development and also save the country from an economic or political crisis. In contrast to embezzlement, creation of individual wealth through agriculture implies creating more jobs to citizens (employing more people to work in the farm), thus, reducing the rate of unemployment and the prevalence of poverty, which is actually a life-saving, economic way of wealth creation. This can be termed as a ‘serving the nation wealth creation model’ – agriculture, as opposed to destroying the nation wealth creation model – embezzlement, especially when the embezzled money is not invested within the country.


For one to lead a peaceful life after the civil war without worries and much stress, it is advisable to opt for farming. When one is a farmer, everybody gives him/her money through the purchase of his/her farm produce in contrast to when s/he is a politician – s/he has to give to everybody in campaign for the next elections.


In politics, however much one may give out, people will still ask for, or expect, much more. Such an excessive type of generosity may force the person not to accumulate wealth during the tenure of a political office. In agriculture one feels the passion and the pride of having money in the pocket, and also of feeding many families and creating employment in the community.


It is very important to note that the developmental strength of a country dwells in the ownership of its economy by its own citizens. South Sudan, though being one of the mega producers of crude oil in the world, may one day not go far developmentally if its economy is not owned by its own citizens. And one of the top priorities in owning the country’s economy is to achieve a certain level of ‘food self-reliance’.


Currently, more than 50% of both the salaries and wages paid to South Sudanese citizens is spent on food. Supposed, if all foodstuffs are basically imported from outside as it is the case now, this means economically more than 50% of the salary and wage block payments go out of the country on monthly basis. In such a scenario, who is the great loser or winner? Economically, this huge amount of money could go to the pockets of local farmers to increase their purchasing power and improve their living standard.


With the current traditionally agricultural practices widely used by local farmers, it may be hard for someone to guess the reality of what is being said in this text in regard to economic productivity and benefits of crop farming as compared to white-collar jobs. The current agricultural practices cannot, of course, take South Sudanese farmers to any higher levels of production and development despite the high fertility of the soils and the conduciveness of other agronomic factors.


As the economic importance of agriculture in the development of the country is well understood, the expectation is now to see the government fighting to develop agriculture in the same way and with the same vigour it fights to ensure that oil is flowing. Learning from the experiences of many other oil producer nations in Africa, it is today known beyond reasonable doubt that the presence of oil in a country is not all that of a blessing for the citizens, especially the poor class. In most cases, it constitutes an imminent source of political instability as compared to agriculture.


In the case of South Sudan, agriculture could play a major role of establishing peace and security in the country as well as fighting the practice of negative ethnicity. No population can systematically opt for any sort of insecurity if they know very well that they will be the first losers and therefore the first victims. No serious farmer wants to lose a single agro-season because s/he knows how much s/he therefore loses in terms of the financial incomes earned from the sales of his/her farm produce.


Before earning from oil, the government has the obligation to initially intensively invest in constructing a pipeline from the site to a port outlet. Similarly in the case of agriculture, before expecting to boost the agriculture sector and grow the national economy as a result of the development of agriculture, the government should invest in building the capacities of, and in empowering, local farmers; as well as putting in place the relevant agricultural research institutions needed to support in directing the government in the very technical process of national agricultural policy design and implementations. 


If agriculture is truly developed, many citizens will spontaneously retire from white-collar jobs including politics to join the sector. And this would be the only way forward to achieving political and economic stability in the country. In life, people look for greener pastures. If agriculture is not developed, all what South Sudanese citizens will be doing is to give out a lion’s share of the money earned from the sales of their oil in exchange for foodstuffs, making the country to remain eternally undeveloped, poor, highly tribalistic, unstable and prone to economic and political crises.




The author is an Engineer Agronomist, currently based in Nairobi, Kenya, where he is doing his PhD in Agriculture at Kenyatta University. He can be reached on (+254) 7 12 17 34 66 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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