The agricultural ministry is a vital part of the vision and plan for comprehensive, Christian-based community development in Akot, South Sudan and the surrounding communities. The great majority of the Dinka are subsistence farmers or cattlemen. Under ideal conditions they are only able to raise enough food to feed their families from one harvest to the next, but in the harsh climate of South Sudan conditions are rarely ideal. Modern farming methods and mechanization are not available. Crops are raised using manual labor, hand tools and occasionally oxen teams. Despite their best efforts families often experience hunger and starvation especially in the months before the next harvest.
Living Water developed the agricultural ministry to assist the Dinka in raising sufficient food for their families. A model farm was established to demonstrate enhanced cultivation techniques and to experiment with new crops and food sources that might be adaptable to the area. We also grow crops that are staples in the Dinka diet. We are beginning to introduce improved varieties of their traditional foods such as sorghum, beans, peanuts and okra that are more drought resistant and higher yielding. Produce from the farm helps supply food for the women’s ministry, pastors’ training, men’s discipleship groups and school children.
The farm now has 30 acres under cultivation. Six acres are irrigated by a solar powered irrigation system that makes it possible to raise supplementary crops during the long dry season. A second acre of tropical fruit trees will be planted this rainy season.
Agricultural education is an important part of the student curriculum. Students receive 4 years of weekly agricultural classes and hands on gardening instruction. Community initiatives include large church gardens to feed community members in need and women’s ministry gardens that supply meals for their weekly meetings. Several hundred fruit trees to be planted in home gardens this rainy season will be distributed to members of the women’s ministry. The fruit supplies value vitamins and other micronutrients to supplement the families
diet. Later this year bucket irrigation kits will be distributed through the women’s ministry to make it possible to more easily raise crops during the extended dry season.
The agricultural ministry will continue to evolve as needs are identified. We are so grateful that God is blessing the agricultural ministry.