JUBA, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Lujang Santos Teadato, a 26-year-old law student at the University of Juba, is harnessing entrepreneurship skills to become self-reliant and boost his country's food security.

Santos, who was born in Juba at the height of civil war in his motherland, told Xinhua recently that his idea of self-sustaining Plants that won the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) grants, aims to eradicate hunger and poverty in the world's youngest republic.

"My solution is to help citizens to use plastic mineral water bottles to plant simple vegetables such as eggplant, sukuma wiki (collard greens) within their compounds and become food secure," Santos said.

While expressing his gratitude to the UNDP and partners for their support, he said his award-winning concept will help elderly South Sudanese who can't manage to travel a long distance just to go and cultivate their farmlands.

Sixty youths from 23 youth-led teams competed for 10,000 U.S. dollars and only three ideas were awarded after three days of team's ideation, prototyping and storyboard preparation before the jury.

Richard Abondio, a co-founder for Innovation Initiative for Peace and Development (IIPD), a Juba-based charity, is another strong-willed youth with entrepreneur skills, who is also an agri-professional, said that with his team of 15 peers, they are going to use the grants to train farmers on how to use an ox-plow as a way to increase the country's food productivity.

The youth innovation, which started last week, is part of the UNDP's youth empowerment and employment project, supported by the Netherlands in collaboration with Kenya's Equity Bank through its South Sudan subsidiary.

"Farmers are facing numerous challenges during cultivation because they are using their muscles as their source of energy and since we have 75 percent of country's livestock, we can train them so they use ox-plow," said Abondio.

Kwac Wek Wol, undersecretary of the ministry of culture, youth and sports, said harnessing the creativity and entrepreneur spirit of the young generation is key to eradicating hunger and poverty in South Sudan.

"I would like to encourage our young people to channel their zeal toward entrepreneurship, particularly in the areas of agriculture and come up with creative innovation that can be developed, and given opportunity to contribute to achieving food security in South Sudan," Wek said.

Kamil Kamaluddeen, UNDP resident representative, said the UN agency is helping South Sudan to achieve its food security as envisioned in the revitalized peace agreement.

"We are ready for South Sudan that is built on the creative energies of the people, South Sudan that is focused on ideas, to send messages to partners and duty bearers that the youth is ready to think not just about themselves but the future of the country," Kamaluddeen said.

The youths in this oil-rich but strife-torn nation make up about 70 percent of the population. Enditem

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