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IPS – Forcing South Sudan’s Idle Youth into Farming

IPS – Forcing South Sudan’s Idle Youth into Farming | Inter Press Service
Police in South Sudan have begun press-ganging every “idle” youth they can find to provide labour on police farms. The State Police Commissioner in Northern Bahr al Gazal state says young men cannot be left to drink tea and play cards all day while food insecurity threatens the country.
“Anyone who does not want to cultivate will be captured and brought to plant for us. Whether you are a soldier, or a policeman, or a member of the prison service … if you choose to put on your best clothes to come and loiter in town, we shall take you to work for us. Whether you want it or not,” State Police Commissioner Akot Deng Akot told IPS.
A staggering 4.7 million South Sudanese – almost half the population – are food insecure, according to the United Nations.
“One million of these people are severely food insecure meaning they can only afford to eat one meal once in two or three days, while the other 3.7 million people are moderately food insecure meaning they can at least afford to eat a meal per day,” the U.N.’s Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Lise Grande, told IPS in an earlier interview.
The countrywide food insecurity is being blamed on a number of factors, including a cereal deficit. According to the U.N. the deficit doubled from 200,000 metric tonnes in 2011 to 470,000 this year. In addition, high fuel prices and a weakening local currency have contributed to the situation.
Central Equatoria state’s Agriculture Minister Michael Roberto Kenyi told IPS that the policy of giving civil servants days off was making a difference and that civil servants had to lead by example.
“Leadership in the past used to be that you should have a house, a garden and a granary. A leader must have these things to be considered a leader. As a civil servant, you need to be exemplary to the community and you cannot be exemplary when your granary is empty,” ..He said that an assessment would be done by the state after the December harvest.

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