Last night my friend AG and I had a very interesting conversation about Malakal (the capital town of Upper Nile state, Southern Sudan, where I’m currently living and working). We talked from tribal clashes that have been going on and on, cattle raiding, food, vegetables, and how expensive the chicken egg in Malakal is, to livelihood. Despite the difficulties and negativity, we praised the Malakal soil that is so fertile and not to mention it’s also vast, but empty.
Our conversation then moved to how Malakal people actually can utilize their vast land and fertile soil. Instead of letting this land empty and dry, it would be better if they start to learn how to work on their soil. So far, they only count on their cattle because the main livelihood in Sudan is to have hundreds or even thousands of livestock.
If you go to Malakal market, you can hardly find fresh vegetables. Also, the chicken egg in Malakal is very expensive, you have to pay one Sudanese pounds (equivalent to USD$0.50) for an egg! Vegetables, fruits, chicken meat and eggs are coming from Khartoum therefore the price is very expensive.
AG & I wondered whether Malakal people have interest in agriculture. If they are worry about irrigation, they shouldn’t be, because they live by the Nile River. They have plenty of water for their farm. They can also buy 100 or 200 chickens from Khartoum if they want to start a chicken and egg farm in town.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been supporting Malakal people in agriculture. They distributed seeds, crops and tools as well as held some training on how to start farming, use the tools, grow the crops and seeds and harvest them. But it seems a little bit difficult to encourage the people because apparently agriculture is not really popular in Malakal.
Today I went jogging and as usual I always passed through empty land near by the compound. I noticed there were only a couple of acacias standing and wild grass growing on it. I stared on it for a moment and started to wonder when these people are going to be hand in hand to grow something on their land. These people would fight and kill each other over the land unfortunately they ended up never utilizing it properly for their own good.