Food security for most households is still a huge issue. While the food secure households consume 3 meals per day, the composition of these meals does not guarantee a balanced diet as it is made of mainly cereals, vegetables and meat. Most of the households are moderately food secure consuming 2 meals per day and a few are food insecure taking 1 meal per day. Major fruits like mangoes are seasonal consumed only during the months of April and May. During the hunger gap which occurs in July, people resort to gathering wild foods and fruits as a survival strategy to take them across to the month of August when maize, a main staple food crop is harvested. At this time maize is available as green cobs and some families can process the green cobs into floor. Cassava is a major food security crop that is available all the year round for those households that have them. Thus it can be the main food consumed during the hunger gap. The local cash economy is inefficient and household income is generated through sales of food crops, cash crops like coffee and other products like honey, fish and game meat. The food crops sold at the local markets are: maize grains, sorghum, cow peas, beans, pumpkins and vegetables. Recent prices of food products have suddenly risen due to the current South Sudan economic downturn. For example, the price of a bucket of maize grains now sells at 150 South Sudanese Pounds compared to its price of 25 South Sudanese Pounds before the economic crises.
Farming is still practiced at subsistence basis. Crops grown are cereal crops like maize, sorghum, millet and upland rice; root crops such as cassava, sweet potatoes and yams; legumes such as cow peas, beans and green grams; and oil crops for example, sesame, groundnuts and sunflower. In some places fruits such as oranges, avocado, mangoes, guavas, bananas and pineapples are grown. Bananas can be grown all over Yei but most bananas come from Morobo County, Otogo and Lasu payams of Yei County. Small ruminants like goats and sheep, some cattle and poultry are also kept at some households. In some parts of Yei and Morobo counties coffee is a major cash crop which before the 21-year civil war was a substantial income provider. And because of this, many farmers were organized into cooperatives to strengthen farmer negotiating position on the prices of coffee and to encourage bulking of coffee products to facilitate access of desired quantities by coffee traders and merchants in the region. Some of these cooperatives still exist but the membership has changed over time as a new generation has inherited the institutions. Over the years, during the war and after the realization of peace, non-governmental organizations and the local governments have formed a number of farmer groups to facilitate the provision of extension services to different communities. These farmer groups still exist and continue to provide community structures for services and development initiatives. Attempts have been made at different times to introduce ox-plough to enable farmers to open more farm land but adoption of this technology has been slow. For this reason most farmers use the hand hoe for cultivation. In some places tractors supplied by the government are used for ploughing but tractor cultivation has been constraint by limited access to spare parts and inadequate local knowledge and skills for tractor repair, maintenance and use.
At the local level farming is constraint by a number of technological, economic, social and pests and diseases problems throughout its stages from land clearance, land preparation, planting, weeding, harvesting, processing and marketing. First farmers are unable to open up bigger farms as they have limited technological options available. Hand tools are increasingly being used for land clearance, land preparation, weeding and construction of crop storage space. If improved technology such as tractor and ox-plough is available, it is expensive and not affordable by poor households. As a result farms and household storage facilities are small and community storage facilities are non-existent because quantity of farm products is small. Markets for crop products are inefficient and unattractive to food crop wholesalers; farmers are unable to access distant markets due to poor road infrastructure and inadequate transport services. The level of knowledge and skills for most individuals remain traditional. Most households do not comply with good agronomic practices such as early planting and weeding resulting into heavy pest and disease infestation and tense competition of weeds with crops. Thus yields are reduced. High prevalence of livestock diseases and inadequate veterinary services cause death of livestock reducing household livelihoods diversity options. Health and socio-economic issues also contribute to lower the productive potential of farmers in rural areas. Prevalence of malaria and other diseases weaken the farmer who may not actively engage in farming as a result. In the same way migration of the youth to urban centers and unbalanced distribution of labor between men and women further result in loss of labor the rural economy needs to grow.