Bor — The Governor of Jonglei State, Kuol Manyang, threatened Monday to legislate against idleness in his state, after being told by women's groups that many men are not doing their fair share to food production.
Food security is a major issue in troubled Jonglei State, unpredictable rain and insecurity in some areas hinder efforts to increase agricultural production.
Large areas of arable land in Jonglei, South Sudan's largest state, remain unfarmed due to rebel activity in Pibor County and insecurity caused by a cycle of cattle raiding. The state launched a disarmament campaign earlier this year and this month outlawed civilians from carrying arms.
Governor Manyang, announced his plans to ban laziness on Monday while addressing women's agricultural groups, who presented their produce to the Jonglei State Council of Ministers.
Manyang urged the citizens in Jonglei to work hard to reduce food insecurity in the in order to make their livelihoods more sustainable and asked non-governmental organisations working in Jonglei to support the women undertaking agricultural activities.
"Food insecurity will be challenged by our own people through work", said Manyang.
Susan Lith Aloung, a member of the Jonglei legislative assembly, who led the women's agriculture groups at the meeting, pointed out that only women cultivate in many communities of Jonglei, and accused men of "sitting under the trees playing games".
"We want to encourage men to join us because all of us need food", said the MP, who represents Athoch South Constituency number 27.
Manyang urged the women not to give up, pledging that his government will make a law against idleness in the state to ensure that "every body, including adults to work for themselves".
"Don't be discouraged by men's idleness, I will legislate a law that will penalise those who sit under the trees playing the games, waiting for women to bring them food", he said. "We don't need to depend on relief services all the time".
Manyang said his state will build industries for processing food for home consumption once production improves. South Sudan heavily relies on imports for it food and other goods and the country has struggled with inflation since an oil dispute with Sudan has deprived the government of vital currency since January.
The women pledged to fight hunger in the state, asking the state government and agriculture supporting NGOs to provid them with more tools and green houses.
"We want to fight hunger in our state", Aloung said.
"What we need is to reduce food insecurity in our state, this is the work of our women", she added.