News from Rumbek

With tree planting comes sustainability in the community

The beauty of an environment lies in the variety and the nature of trees. In South Sudan, particularly in Rumbek, there are a lot of the trees but most of them do not bear edible fruits.

Because of this, communities in Rumbek import fruits from other states within the country, at significant cost. To help our communities, for many years, Loreto Rumbek has promoted environmental care and nutrition by planting trees inside our compound and along our security wall.

Loreto Rumbek plants a wide variety of seedlings, including fruit-bearing trees such as mango, guava, avocado, custard apple and orange, and other trees such as eucalyptus, mahogany and teak. As seasonal fruits, mangoes and guavas provide nutrition for our communities during times of hunger.

For example, mangoes are usually harvested from February to April, during the driest season of the year. Our communities depend heavily on mangoes as a food source while they wait for the rains to start in May, the beginning of the planting season. Mangoes are also an income source for many families especially in female-led households.

According to Daniel Deng Majak, the agricultural field supervisor at Loreto Rumbek, “We have planted more guavas, teak, mangoes and mahogany seedlings. In the process of planting we are using raw planting 10 meters apart to avoid nutrient competition. Mangoes, guavas, custard apple fruits are a good source of vitamins but we lack enough of these fruit in our houses. Planting of the seedlings is a good chance to educate our people on how to plant especially edible ones. Another reason as to why fruit trees are being planted is that no one can cut these trees down while non-edible (non fruit-bearing trees) are easily cut down for charcoal. Mahogany and teak are mostly for rain catchment.”

The planting of the seedlings is done by the local community and it is a great encouragement to the community. As Loreto Rumbek has promoted tree planting over many years, some local community members have embraced the importance of fruit-bearing trees. In fact, community members have requested that certain trees be planted based on their enjoyment of the fruits e.g. guavas.

Through funding from the Mennnonite Central Committee (MCC), Loreto Rumbek regularly distributes seedlings to our primary school students to promote tree planting in the community. Seedling distributions are a great source of joy for our youth, and most of our young students take great pride in planting their seedlings and watching them grow.

Debora Akol, an intern supervising seedling planting adds, “The local community is very happy to get a chance of planting varieties of trees in different methods. They are also amazed to see avocado and eucalyptus trees because they have never seen them grow before. Some community members have never had a chance of getting to know the taste of these fruits. They are very much willing to see and adapt to the trees. Guava and custard apple are trees that bear fruit after a short period of time and this gives people hope. The local community appreciate Loreto Rumbek for giving them the chance to have new fruit trees.”

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