The community of Luri Payam in Juba County of Central Equatoria State is seeking government intervention after pastoralists unleashed cattle to vandalize crops in the area jeopardizing food production and leaving residents vulnerable to hunger.
The community that has been receiving support from a charity organization says their gains are being jeopardized by pastoralists whose cattle are destroying crops indiscriminately notwithstanding the critical importance of farm produce to the livelihood of residents.
Chaplain Modi Duku, the representative of the community in Luri Payam lamented that the support given by the Society of Daughters of Mary and Immaculate and collaborators could all be up in smoke without the government’s intervention.
“We have been working with SDMIC supporting our agricultural activities and our lives have changed because we cannot depend on the humanitarian food,” he said.
“Part of our food we sell to facilitate our children’s education and medical bills but as I talk, cattle keepers are letting us down,” Mr. Modi added.
A former Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Modi added that “As crop growers, we are experiencing difficulties in our farming practices because of roaming cattle that come around and destroy our crops.”
In a disturbing incident, Alima Susan, a mother of four children revealed that cattle keepers came to the cowpeas field and ordered her to vacate the place for the cattle to eat.
“One day I went to my garden of vegetables and found six cattle keepers around my garden with their cattle. Immediately when they saw me they ordered me to go away and leave the vegetable for the cattle to eat because cattle give milk to the people,” recounted Alima.
Alima used to buy vegetables; that was before she settled down to her farm where she has reaped so much and became a supplier of vegetables.
But the productivity is being threatened by pests on one hand, and cattle deliberately dispatched to feed on promising seedlings.
“We are appeal to the development partners to help us in raising our voices to call on the government to act now to protect us the farmers from the destructive acts of the cattle keepers,” Alima said.
The administration of the Society of Daughter of Mary Immaculate Collaborator called for community education on crop and livestock production.
“We encourage our people and the government to fight hunger because agriculture is the only thing that makes the life of people better,” a representative said.
First Director-General in the State Ministry of Agriculture and Animals Resources and Fisheries, Geroge Kamilo Ladu called on pastoralists to restrain unnecessary movement of cattle.
In 2015, President Salva Kiir ordered cattle keepers, mainly from Jonglei and Bah-el-Ghazal to vacate crop-producing communities in the Equatoria region.
But with floods and intercommunal conflict ravaging those regions, going back is an enormous risk to cattle keepers. The dilemma is on the government that has done very little to address the grievance between farmers and cattle keepers.