The army will in time be engaged in farming to promote food security in South Sudan, the deputy minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs has said.
Since 2005, the national army has been involved mainly in addressing security threats –both internal and external.
Between 2005 and 2010, the then SPLA was involved in disarmament exercises and responding to communal and cattle related incidents.
In 2010 to 2012, the army was heavily deployed at the border after Sudan invaded Abyei, and the subsequent takeover of Heglig or Panthou oil field by the SPLA.
Internal wars as a consequence of political disagreements within the ruling SPLM party divided the army into various factions -fighting each other -from 2013 to 2018.
General Malek Reuben expressed optimism that soon the SSPDF will move away from frequent military operations to farming, and other developmental programs.
In 2013, the army general headquarters established an engineering corp.
It also started a military farm outside Juba.
“We have very well train manpower ready to be directed to any venture of opportunity, be it wide agriculture be it infrastructure or whatever,” said Gen. Malek.
He was speaking during the launch of the use of Sonalika Tractors in Juba on Tuesday, Malek Reuben.
Members of parliament recently decried the living conditions of ordinary soldiers.
They said soldiers have resorted to selling charcoals as a means of supporting their families due to the reluctance by the government to pay their salaries.
The legislators said members of the organized forces and other civil servants stay for over 6 – 7 months without salaries.
The President also acknowledged in the past that security officers give their uniforms to criminals to commit crimes in exchange for small cash.
General Malek hopes the army will one day be get involved in large scale mechanized farming so that they produce surplus for export.
“We are a partner to this nation to be maximize the uses of our forces, the only thing we need is to advance the productivity level so that we achieve food sufficiency, and the surplus we export to neighboring countries,” he said.
General Reuben also encouraged farmers to diversify their crops so that they supply local and international markets.
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