HARGEISA, July 8 2009 — Authorities in Somalia’s self-declared republic of Somaliland are worried about a bad harvest and potential livelihood crisis for poor agro-pastoralists.
Abdikader Jibril Tukale, director-general of Somaliland’s Ministry of Agriculture, told IRIN: “We are very worried about low crop production, which can cause livelihood crises for poor agro-pastoralists in the main farmlands of Hargeisa, Togdher, Gabiley, Awdal, Salal and Sahil, caused by the failure of Gu’ [spring] rains and the desert locust outbreak.”

Tukale said at least 100T of seeds were distributed to agro-pastoralists in the western and mid-western regions of Somaliland, particularly Awdal, Salal, Gabiley, and Hargeisa.

“We provided seeds to at least 5,000 households in these regions, giving 20kg per household, selecting the poorest people to support them to [restore] their livelihoods,” he added.

However, most farmers failed to cultivate their land due to insufficient rainfall.

Omar Aw Aden Riirash, a farmer in Satile region, said: “I cultivated my 10ha farms in Satile and Idhanka Jufada twice this year but seeds germinated in only two qodis [44 sqm] in Satile; all others were lost seeds and I need to plant afresh during the next rainy season.

“I am now an old man; when I was young, I witnessed my father cultivating the same quantity of land and producing about 100 sacks of crops per harvest, but in recent years, the situation has changed, our highest crop production is only 30 sacks during the good years; we just harvest enough for our subsistence during other years.”

He said the causes of the lower output included poor rainfall, soil degradation and farmers’ financial inability to cultivate more land.

Other farmers attribute the poor crop production to the quality of seeds.

“We seeded our farms using the imported sorghum and maize seeds; in the first two to three years, we harvested much more than before; unfortunately, later, the production decreased,” Hassan Haji Mohamed, a farmer who lives near Abarso, 21km northwest of Hargeisa, said.


Photo: Mohamed Amin Jibril/IRIN
Abdikader Jibril Tukale, director-general of the Ministry of Agriculture
However, the ministry maintains it distributed good quality seeds.
“We do not distribute imported seeds; we buy locally and supply poor farmers,” Tukale said. “We now expect to distribute new seeds and even help farmers to plough their farms during the next rainy season; this will be done with the support of international organizations that are working with us to help farmers.”

However, several farmers complained of seed shortages.

“In this area, this is the first time we are receiving these seeds, as far as I know; we have heard that some people who had received these seeds had better harvests than in previous years,” Omar Aw Aden, a farmer in Satile, said.

Riirash said: “We planted the seeds more than two times but produced nothing, now we are encountering a lack of seeds.”



Source: IRIN