Having seeds without the expertise on how to sow them is no good, which is why Bangladeshi peacekeepers provided female farmers in Jur River County with both. Photos: Roseline Nzelle Nkwelle/UNMISS
WESTERN BAHR EL GHAZAL- In South Sudan, women tend to be the ones making sure that there is food on the table, every day, for the whole family. That task, difficult at the best of times, has been made harder by uncooperative weather patterns, causing below-par harvests.
Being aware of this critical situation, peacekeepers from Bangladesh serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently decided to act by providing women in Udici in Jur River County not only with lots of seeds but also with the know-how needed to make them grow and become food.
“At the beginning of the season, we received seeds from the Food and Agriculture Organization, but a lack of rain has resulted in them not yielding enough to feed us all. For this reason, we are very happy to receive this assistance from UNMISS peacekeepers,” said Elizabeth Abang Ulot, one of the more than 20 women benefitting from the Bangladeshi initiative.
A significant number of seeds of fast-growing, high-yielding and nutritious vegetables like okra, radish, pumpkin, brinjal, ash gourd, maize, cucumber and spinach were handed over to the women.
“We heard about the shortage of food and lack of seeds from community members, so we decided to reach out to a group of women here as we know that they are the ones taking the responsibility to feed everyone,” said Captain Sonar Tori, Commander of the Female Engagement Platoon.
Skills on pest and other disease control were also shared with the community farmers, as were other tips and tricks on how to create optimal conditions for the new crops.
“We have had a wonderful time with the female officers from Bangladesh,” averred Elizabeth’s fellow farmer Asunta Kangi. “It is good to interact with other women as they put us at ease, making it easier to ask questions. I will be closely following the guidelines we have received,” she added, smiling broadly as much-needed rain started to fall from the sky.
The Bangladeshi initiative is in line with the peacekeeping mission’s mandate and ongoing efforts to protect civilians, a concept not limited to physical protection but one that also encompasses, when and where possible, assistance in creating sustainable livelihoods.