Complimenting Commercial Farming with Livestock Input Lights up Financial Path

Jackson Yol Ayuel had a vast unexploited land, tens of cows and yet lived in poverty until the idea of working the two around each other came up, lighting up his financial path.
Laborers weeding on the farm of Jackson Yol Ayuel

By Deng Athian

Jackson Yol Ayuel had a vast unexploited land, tens of cows and yet lived in poverty until the idea of working the two around each other came up, lighting up his financial path.

Ayuel is currently a productive agriculturalist who employs commercial farming to produce large quantities of cereals and other crops.

“I actively become a businessperson through farming in 2017,” Ayuel told The Dawn from Twic in South Sudan’s Warrap State.

“I thought of doing this business because there is enough land for the family which is good for sorghum, millet, maize, and other types of food crops,” the family man with 3 wives said.

After a hint from his neighbor on how he could benefit from the bulls in his kraal for commercial farming, Ayuel picked it up and harvested a huge quantity of sorghum in the first year.

“I listened to his advice and in that year, I harvested 23 sacks, 100 kgs each, of sorghum for the first time in my life,” Ayuel said. “I expanded my farmland the following year and harvested 68 sacks.”

His urge to farm was propelled by his huge family who solely relied on him for all their basic needs.

“Before I have not been having money because I only harvest the little food which is only use for consumption,” Ayuel said.

“I have 3 wives and so feeding them was a big problem because the children and my in-laws were demanding a lot.”

After realizing a huge yield, Ayuel delved fully into commercial agriculture working with his animals for the first two years before employing tractors for better farming.

“When I started in the second year of extensive farming, I spent 300,000 SSP which was spent on planting and weeding,” he said.

Overcoming challenges

Laborers show off harvest from Jackson Yol Ayuel’s farm

Ayuel employed 3 ox-ploughs and 6 bulls in the first year but was faced with “shortage of money or cash to pay the workers during the weeding.”

“In the first and second year of this business, I sold away 10 cows just to pay the workers. During the weeding and harvesting, there is a need for the workers. So I managed to pay them,” he said.

Ayuel prides to The Dawn in his achievement as he explains:

“If I harvest 300 to 400 sacks or bags of sorghum of each 100 kgs each year, how much could that be in SSP? I think it is good money,” he said.

“I sell my sorghum every June or July when the prices of food items rise. For example, last year I had 310 sacks of sorghum and I sold away 200 sacks at the price of SSP 75,000 per sack or bag. That is the amount of money I get as a yearly income.”

Developing Commercial Farming at Individual Levels

When individual farmers such as Ayuel go commercial, there is a much higher return to them as well as the country’s economy.

In a developing country like China, Which South Sudan can take a leaf from, individual commercial farming has already even gone digital.

According to a report on Xinhua quoted on China Voices,  the country is even assisting farmers in taking their sales of agricultural beyond the farms to selling products online.

It said China’s online retail sales of farm produce stood at around 530 billion yuan (77.2 billion U.S. dollars), marking a rise of 9.2 percent year on year in 2022 alone.

A paper published on Research Gate  said growth in agriculture and rising off-farm employment have dramatically reduced rural poverty with the number of people in extreme poverty falling from 250 million in 1978 to less than 15 million by 2007. The rural poverty rate fell from 32 percent to less than 3 percent.

Such are the benefits when people partake on increasing productivity at individual or community levels.

Brushing over conflict

While high prices of fuel hit him during the crisis which began in 2013 in South Sudan, Ayuel however believes the major he has to grapple with is intercommunal conflicts between his community and neighbors, especially that between the Twic and Ngok Dinka of Abyei.

“This year, some of my farms in the northern part of Twic County have not been cultivated because of the conflict. That area has now become a battlefield for the two communities so the harvest for this year is going to be less but I changed the strategy to groundnut plantation in the side of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state,” Ayuel said.

“Peace has come to South Sudan and unfortunately, our county got itself into war with our neighbor Abyei yet when this is over, it will be easy to do my business successfully,” he said.

However, now putting poverty into the pass, Ayuel says he is a proud family man.

“I provide quality food to my children, quality health services, quality clothes and quality education,” Ayuel said.

“I say quality because my children are now in Uganda schooling there and when they fall sick, they go to the best hospital for treatment,” he said.

“One of my wives is there with them. It is also helping in term of cattle. I use to buy cows each year for my children. So it is helping me.”

Ayuel has also become an employer, helping families in his community to get money.

“During the weeding, I employ more than 100 people in all my farms. Sometimes, the number may go high if there is too much grass to be removed from the crops,” he said, adding, “and in the harvest time, I also employ more than 50 people.”

The farmer believes restoration of law, order and peace between Twic and Abyei communities will enable farmers develop financial and help rid the country of food insecurity.

“I also want to encourage everyone to do farming because it is cheaper and successful. Our Late Dr. John Garang in his speech one time said South Sudan is a country with fertile soil that can produce enough food to export to other countries rather than importing food,” he said.

“I also want to advise my fellow South Sudanese not to have the fear of risk when they are setting up a business.”

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