By Bellah Zulu, ACNS
An Anglican diocese in South Sudan has sourced and distributed bicycles to local farmers to improve their coordination and help increase productivity to ensure food sustainability in the area.
The development wing of Wau Diocese in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (ECSSS), Christian Action for Relief and Development (CARD), sourced the 38 new bicycles and distributed them to various farming groups in different locations of the diocese.
The Revd Peter Angui Akook is the Diocesan Development Officer and Acting Administrative Secretary in Wau Diocese. In an interview with ACNS, he said: “We decided to embark on the bicycles project so that our lead farmers are able to
make follow ups with their fellow farmers and also help them take their produce to market.”
“We have since distributed the bicycles to the lead farmers. We called their top leaders to come to the office to collect the bicycles on behalf of the group and emphasised that the bicycles belong to the groups,” he added.
The bicycles were purchased at a total cost of about 23,000 South Sudanese Pounds (US$7000) with funding from a European Union project. “The bicycles will also allow easy movement when attending workshops to keep farmers updated on good agricultural techniques and practices,” said the Revd Angui Akook.
He added: “The leaders were given instructions on how these bicycles should be handled and used so that they are used correctly with minimal wear. It is important to understand that many of these farmers will not have had a bicycle before so this instruction is very necessary.”
The Development Coordinator said that the procurement of the bicycles from East African countries took a long period of time to ensure that they were best suited to local needs and easy to maintain in good condition.
“Our bigger plans are to extend food security projects to the other counties of Western Bahr el Ghazal state and Warrap State’s six counties. The other plan is to open up health centers in the two States. We aim to provide social services especially basic needs to our people.”
Food security is one of the biggest challenges, which the country faces since the conflict erupted in December last year. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) fear that the “consequences of the conflict threaten to reverse the country’s progress towards food security, and are likely to impact even parts of South Sudan not directly affected by fighting.”