February 1, 2023

World Vision and WFP introduce rice in flood-prone areas of South Sudan

Timothy Robbins in South Sudan

Rice farming is transforming farming communities in Gogrial East County, Warrap State, making them more resilient and self-sufficient. Now, farmers worry less about the start of the rainy season as they learn to better prepare their fields and use floodwater wisely. “Harvesting this rice is like a dream,” says Ayiei, 32 and a mother of three.

Ayiei is one of many families leaving their homes in the Amethic village in search of safer ground after devastating floods swept through their community in 2021.

World Vision introduced farming methods such as rice cultivation in East Gogrial County in early 2022 as part of the Food for Assets project, early 2022 in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP).

Before rice cultivation in the district started, farmers and their families often went hungry because they could not sow and harvest sorghum and peanuts are popular crops grown in the county.

They are drought tolerant plants that can withstand long periods of the dry season. However, seasonal flooding often washes away fields in most parts of the county. As farmers learned more about growing rice, they quickly discovered that rice is a more suitable and profitable crop to grow in flood-prone areas like theirs, as it requires a lot of water to grow. develop. , unlike sorghum and peanuts.

“Rice is something new in this area. Like the other farmers, I resisted it initially. We thought nothing would grow in water. But when I saw the rice growing in the water I was surprised and said to myself, ‘this could sustain me for years since I do not know when these floods will stop’, so I joined the team,” says Ayak.

Soon, the rice project began to cause waves of transformation in the community. As farmers learn the art of nursery preparation, planting and harvesting, they become more confident in their ability to grow rice. The new skills and experiences they gain give them the opportunity to change their lives for the better.

After six months of planting and anticipation, the time for harvest came. “God closed the option of growing sorghum and Groundnuts, but opened the option of rice,” Ayiei says.

“It’s hard work,” Ayiei says. “I am still in awe, never in my life have I ever seen a crop grow healthy and well in floods. Upon seeing the rice grow in water, my joy is beyond expression. Harvesting this rice feels like a dream. I will carry on with this experience, to make something for myself and my family.”

Anticipating dry months when rice yields will be low, World Vision and WFP also introduced other climate-tolerant crops and other climate-tolerant farming techniques, such as crop rotation where cassava and sweet potato can be grown as these crops can thrive during dry periods.