Southern Sudan: JRS donates three pairs of oxen and oxen ploughs to local communities
30 July 2010

Children follow oxen home in the evening in Lobone (Angelika Mendes/JRS)
Up to this year, almost all cultivation in Lobone sub-county has been done by hand using a hoe.

Lobone, 30 July 2010 – Between April and June 2010 JRS has donated a pair of oxen and an ox plough to each of three Catholic communities near Lobone, Southern Sudan to help generate income for their members.

"I am delighted to receive the oxen on behalf of Palwar Catholic community  because I know it will make a huge difference to us and help to cultivate all the land of the chapel garden which we have not been able to do up to the present time", said Anthony Olak, chairperson of Palwar Chapel.

Up to this year, almost all cultivation in Lobone sub-county has been done by hand using a hoe. As a result, most people only cultivate enough land and crops to feed their family with little or no surplus to sell for extra income. To enable people to move from this subsistence level to a basic commercial level, JRS decided to introduce the use of oxen for ploughing. A pair of oxen can plough an acre in a day, whereas a person working with hoe can only cultivate a fraction of an acre in a day.

To ensure that communities know how to handle the oxen, JRS sent eight chapel members for a specialised training on ox-ploughing in April. The training was facilitated by Peace Harvest, a US based organisation that has been working in agricultural development in northern Uganda since 2007. 

The other important issue facing farmers in the Lobone area is a lack of availability of seeds. JRS bought 10 kilograms of yellow bean and onion seed for each of the communities of Omere, Palwar and Lomarati.  "We hope that the surplus beans and onions can be sold locally to provide a cash crop for the members of the three Catholic communities," says Fr Richard O’Dwyer SJ who introduced the idea. "We also hope that part of this money will be used to pay for veterinary vaccinations against tsetse flies which are needed four times per year and for spraying against parasites which is required every fortnight," he adds.

The oxen can also be hired out by the chapels to other members of the local communities for a daily fee which provides a second source of income to chapel members. JRS is aiming to provide a pair of oxen to the other three chapels of Lobone, Lerwa and Kicenga by June 2011. "We would like to see each community buy their own seeds and form a cooperative by the time JRS pulls out in 2012," says Fr O’Dwyer.

The JRS pastoral programme in Lobone provides training, material and spiritual support for six Catholic communities in Lobone sub-county. JRS works in conjunction with the parish and the Diocese of Torit and conducts workshops to train choirs, youth groups and members of the local chapel council. JRS also sponsored two catechists to undergo a two year programme in the Catechists Training Centre in Gulu, Uganda in September 2009 and will send two more catechists to the centre in September 2010. The JRS Pastoral Programme aims to help the local Catholic communities become self-supporting and self-reliant by 2012.

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Angelika Mendes
+254 20 3874152