South Sudan peace provides ground to fill family bellies

Like for Ruot, milk has provided income for many South Sudanese Families. File Photo.

By Wilson Bol

Before South Sudan started implementing a peace deal in 2018, Nyabeni Koang Ruot was a dejected hustler who could barely get consistency in providing for her family’s daily meals.

Now with peace being enjoyed in the country, the 34 year old mother of 6 children is capable of filling the bellies of her family comfortably.

Ruot ventured into milk business in 2017 but by then, Bentiu was the epicenter of the crisis which began in 2013 and basically everything including economic activities were at a standstill.

“It was really tough and there was nothing we could do, running from one place to another and only depending on my husband for whatever he could get,” she told The Dawn in an interview from Bentiu, the capital of Unity State.

Fast-tracking into 2023, she proudly confides in The Dawn: “currently I take home 10,000 SSP every day in profits.”

The crisis which began in December 2013 displaced millions of people, destroyed livelihood and led to economic decline in South Sudan.

When implementation of a peace deal signed in 2018 began, calm, peace and security began, allowing many people to return to their homes and focus on rebuilding their livelihoods.

Crises disables infrastructures at every level including in government and personal initiatives at individual and community levels always are a pillar and center-piece for recovery.

Around the globe, countries have developed in leaps as a result of the active participation of the private sector at all levels.

Products from livestock like cattle including milk, beef and hides among others are on a global demand.

Abundance of cattle in South Sudan provides sellers like Ruot with a brisk business opportunity. File photo.

Livestock are of prioritized importance in South Sudan. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations places South Sudan as a world leader in terms of animal wealth per capita, with an estimated 12 million cattle, 20 million sheep and 25 million goats. 

Livestock, FAO said, remains the main source of income and food for the majority of the population and as well signifies status and wealth and serves as the main livelihood asset for pastoralists’ communities.

Serving as a reliable way to keep assets, livestock is potentially the most viable income generator for the communities if their products are economically utilized.

A country like China has been growing dramatically over the past three decades since reform and opening-up and by 2005, it became the largest meat and the third largest milk producer in the world. according to Wiley Online Library.  

Between 2005 and 2010, meat production increased by 14 percent, milk by 38 percent and compound feed by 47 percent and in 2012, meat production added up to 82 million tons with an increase of 5.4 percent from the previous year, it said.

The livestock sector has made a great contribution to ensuring food security and has become a pillar of the rural economy in China.

In 2011, its output value was approximately USD 4 trillion, accounting for 31.7 percent of the total value of agriculture, including crops, forestry, livestock and fishery. Some 15 percent of the annual cash income of rural households comes from animal production.

With such contribution by the rural households to the economy, China has experienced the fastest development ever.

China’s private sector now accounts for at least three-quarters of the Chinese economy, and possibly more with private businesses creating 90 percent of new jobs and are the major employer in many parts of China, according to the Conversation.

And for entrepreneurs like Ruot, despite her family losing hundreds of cattle already in war and floods, her development using the few is a positive trajectory and could go into beef, hides and feeds.

Yet still, her milk business is saving her the day.

“When I started my business, it was only 2000 SSP which I could buy with five liters of milk from cattle keepers but currently my business activities is expanding due to the commitment and the efforts I made,” Ruot said.

“I have 15 cows providing for me milk now. I am right now providing for my family and also assisting relatives and my parents,” she said.

Alongside milking her own cattle, Ruot employees two people who transverse the villages surrounding Bentiu to purchase milk from people every day and retails to people.

According to her, she has a base of about 100 customers in the capital.

Her plans include expanding her business and as well getting a good cold storage facility for the milk she gets.

“It’s an exciting venture because the decision on what to do is all yours,” Ruot said

“You need no approval or permission, you plan your time according to your needs and priorities the activities,” she said.

“That way, you can make more money since you know what you need exactly.”

I had been facing a lot of difficult situations because the government was not able to employ many people and that made me to think of what to do for myself but now I am happy,” she said.

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