Interview with Peter Marop - Agriculture Project Officer in Cueibet, South Sudan

We catch up with Peter Marop, a South Sudanese national from Rumbek, after just he returned from visiting one of the vegetable production groups under his supervision in Apeet Payam. Peter, a happy and kind man, is the epitome of the phrase “life begins at 40.” Having joined the military at the tender age of 12, and watching his beloved country return to relative peace, he lives every day with a new lease on life and looking forward to a brighter future for his country. Peter shed light on his view and outlook as an integral member of VSF Germany to give us a better idea of the realities of working for VSF Germany in a rural part of South Sudan.

So, who is Peter Marop?

I am a 40-year-old male, happily married with two children. I come from the Abun Mayath village in Cueibet Payam, Gok State. I joined VSF Germany in 2017 as an Agriculture Project Officer. Before that, I was a soldier in the military for 17 years. After that, I worked as a Payam Administrator for 2 years, before joining the Ministry of Education as a primary school teacher of agriculture in 2005. I worked there until I joined VSF Germany in 2017. 

What training do you have?

I was enrolled in the Teacher Education Training course for three years and later did a one-year course in agriculture.

What skills did you gain over the years and how have you transferred these skills to the farmers?

I have gained very good skills in farming (crops and animal production) and my prior experience as a teacher has helped me train farmers effectively, making them understand things better. I also believe in practical training as I have learned over time that adult farmers always learn better by doing.

What changes have you observed in Cueibet, Gok State, in the area of food security and livelihood transformation?

Better agronomic practices have really helped enable the community to enhance their food production and attain self-sufficiency. Communities have moved on from earlier subsistence methods, with over 70% adopting the new production techniques and new crop varieties. Short-term crop varieties have helped protect our people from climate-change effects such as drought. Personally, I set a good example. This year (2018), I cultivated 8 feddans from which I harvested 47 bags of groundnuts. I already have 360 kg of sorghum from a very small section of the land and I still have a large farm to harvest. This is a big improvement from 2017, when I harvested only 9 bags of groundnuts (1 ton) and 3 bags of sorghum (360 kg). Most farmers VSF Germany have had the same experience.

What skills did you gain from VSF Germany?

I have gained extra knowledge in agronomy. My life and that of my community have completely changed. My salary enables me to buy my own seeds and tools. I have learned how to plan my work, how to report, basic monitoring and evaluation and the importance of planning and budget forecasting. I have also learned how to use a computer, including Microsoft Excel, which I did not know before joining VSF Germany.

What motivates you most to work for VSF Germany?

Waking up every day knowing I will learn something new and develop new skills while serving my suffering community motivates me greatly. I enjoy seeing people’s lives changed and seeing women being better able to provide food for their families. In this way, I can continue to serve my community and my country.

Where do you see the main strength of VSF Germany and its relationship with the local communities?

Capacity building for farmers to make them self-sufficient is VSF Germany’s greatest strength. VSF Germany's operational bases in the field are also located within the communities, creating a strong bond in our relationships with the community. The organisation also treats and vaccinates our animals, which is very important for our traditional livelihoods as pastoralists.

Please tell us about your plans for the next two years

I have two major plans: 1) to work more for my community; and 2) to further my studies in agriculture if I can find opportunity and support from the organisation.

Any final thoughts, Peter?

I would like to thank VSF Germany, for giving me the chance to grow in my professional career and to positively change the lives of people in my community in my own small way. I would also like to thank VSF Germany for appreciating my work and trusting me to the extent of sending me to other field locations like Rumbek to share my skills and knowledge with others.

 

Thank you very much for the interview.