HARGEISA, 1 February 2010 (Somalilandpress) – I wonder sometimes, if the evergrowing population of China or India ever know a country like Somaliland. A country of only 3.5 Million population, a country the land exceeds its population and so are its resources, yet suffering from lack of exploitation. I am a citizen of that country, and sometimes I hardly get an answer to questions related to our land, especially when my classmates ask me how big is our country. When I tell them the area of our territory, and our number they surprise and put their hands on their cheeks. Wonderful, they say we are a population of 25 million, and our main problem lies on the effort of getting a fertile peice of land to grow crops and vegetables.
Last Year, I travelled to a mountainious region with a group of students, mostly foreigners. I can’t really describe what I saw there, houses were built at the top of mountains, the cliffs, the lagoons and everywhere. Surprisingly, could you ever imagine a farmer using a donkey to dig his piece of land at the very top of a triangular shaped mountain. I asked myself, how could an old man in his late 70s can reach there. When you travel from city to city you will never see unused land, it is inhabitted and occupied. Farms and houses are there, and people are working.
This is not a very populated country, twenty five million is just too little to be compared to a country like Egypt with approximately 80 Million or to India, and let alone China, yet they are ready to invest their country. Every one is busy with his farm when you go to the country side and they mostly eat what they grow. Their villages is like their cities, some of them more congested and have the basic infrustructure. Some of our classmates told me, that they want to follow me to my country and settle there.
Contrary to the above mentioned, I spent my summer last year in Somaliland. I was very longing for my homeland. From the very minute I put my legs on my soil, I felt relaxed and free, but I was disappointed. The land between Berbera and Hargeisa, was too long yet without investment. We didn’t invest our country. Despite it is a coastal area, and may not be good in agriculture yet we could have used for other purposes. When you go east or west of Somaliland, the scenario is the same. I went many places during my visit, each time what was falling in to my mind was the land, the large hectors of land, that no one made use of it. Planes could have landed even without need to pave their way. Play grounds could have at least been built there.
The active things in these areas were desertification process and soil erosion. Then no one ever mentions that danger. We think that the outside world is the paradise, a haven or something similar. IF today a plane landed there, and asked the near persons if they want a lift to USA or Europe or to the Arab world, many would have said Yes from the bottom of their heart. However, if we are given fertilisers, bulldozer and machines and told to dig our land, and use it for agriculture, many of us could have put their hands in their bockets, saying It is difficult. It is difficult and hard because, we are people who need self made food and material.
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We always talk about recognition, and some of us think that urbanisation is the solution, but we rarely realise that agriculture is our master economy. Most of our country is useful for agriculture. We have unlimited areas yet the number of farms we have are countable. Who will make use of this land? Our great grand fathers left like this, may be better because some of us have mis used and polluted it. Shall we leave it like this. The real citizen is that who makes use of his power house-the brain-that Allah has bestowed on us.The treausure that distinguishes as from other creatures.
The healthy mind tells that we Somalilanders should focus on agriculture. You may say I am living in cukoo world, because I am talking about agriculture when we depend on livestock. Yes, it is true that we depend on livestock , but if we shift to agriculture while keeping livestock will be the best solution. This is of course helpful in this very time, where we are suffering from rain shortage, drougths and similar facts. If we planned earlier, and not depend always on livestock we could have survived when the world is in economic depression. They say ‘ don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, and I say ” let us not always depend on livestock, while we have better options-agriculture, fishing, tourism etc.
Finally, I hope that we shall think twice,and will collectively work together. We are a nation of politicians, every one talks about politcs everyday, so let us not focus on politics, it will be straight when we provide our politicians with sorghum and maize from our land and not foreign food.
Ahmed Mohamoud Elmi (Shawky)
Social activist and journalist
A reporter for Somaliland Education Network and Golisnews.com
Views expressed in the opinion articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editorial