Somaliland: Can the Agricultural Sector Overcome Dependence on Food Imports?


Somalilandsun – If we want to plan for food self-sufficiency; we can increase food productions using both horizontal and vertical by means of extensive land cultivation or by way of scientific and improved technologies.

There is a tremendous decline in grain production since the country took independence from Britain resulting poverty and malnutrition and mass migration of farmers from rural to urban centers.

I think we should start with seed multiplication project especially for individual seed project for example wheat, rice sorghum and maize and plan for setting up agricultural research centre for variety development, release and maintenance. And at the same time we can create of the following:

1. Create national Seed Law and regulations: Appropriate seed legislation at the national and regional levels is essential to create an enabling environment for the development of the seed sector. FAO provides assistance to its member states in seed policy and legislation development.

2. Establishing of seed enterprises for the private sector

3. Establishment of Quality Control Unit for seed within the ministry of agriculture

4. Formation of National Seed Board within the MOA.

There are limited knowledge of good agricultural practices and research development and it is really one of the major obstacles impeding local productions is low volume and the only way forward is to increase the yield per hectare using better agronomic practices for example intercropping, strip cropping relay, sequential and with cropping patterns as it appropriates. In addition to farms should familiarize themselves with the recommended plant to plant distance and row to row distance while enhancing soil productivity and eliminating the pests. Thus, there is a room for increase in the productivity of staple food crops in Somaliland (rice, wheat, sunflower sesame, groundnut and pulses) because they can easily grown in our country and they can easily boost local productions into new heights.

In the Somaliland context, soil and water conservation means to capture moisture for human and crop production and reduce the run off or else the rain received will likely to get into the sea. Therefore, there is a need to think of seriously before both the top fertile soil and water gets into the sea.

Erosion is the biggest problem hindering crop production in Somaliland because both the fertile top soil and water is getting into the sea, despite UN and EU have been funding many projects in this regard since 1990s. The impact of these projects had on soil and water conservation in this country has been a tip of the iceberg. We need to seek funds for aforementioned projects nearly at about the same over all level as of yesteryears until water is harvested onto satisfactory level.

The soil erosion control projects that MOA will propose should be different to one in the past and more or less are specified to Survey on status of soil erosion project in Somaliland and also another on integrating crop and livestock production project other for agro forestry project or Water shed management project. These are very helpful and indeed will make differences in soil and water conservation.

On the other hand, Somaliland needs to think of seriously to formulate policies in general and regulatory price for commodities imported in particular encouraging local productions. On the other hand in order our local productions to increase. I suggest for the ministry of finance to waive tax for fertilizers and farm machinery.

Over all there is a need of change of our small scale farmers from subsistence to business levels and one of the options available is to increase the size of our farms by combining several farms in the form of corporate by doing this, farmers will be able to produce higher yields using machinery enabling them to increase their efficiency and effectiveness in producing the desired level of yield. A real development for any farming community depends on the access to roads if not their crops will perish. A road guarantees timely delivery of products to markets and also encourages them to think more and do more in their farming business. In irrigated farms of Somaliland has to be assisted in boosting shelf life of their fruit and vegetable with the availability of complete cold chain and preservation infrastructure facilities from production site to market.

The ministry of livestock should not underestimate the breeding of livestock for meat and milch purposes. To this end, we need to improve and breed of our livestock with better breeds of meat and milch to make sure that our infants in general and children in particular are fed with fresh milk and in general our objectives in securing food are met. The farmers need to be market oriented meaning to grow crops on the demand from the markets for example rice and wheat.

Ministry of agriculture should explore various means to strengthen extension services via audio visual materials, study tours and movement among farmers themselves to learn from each other and also to strengthen linkages between governments and donors and academics alike. They also need to raise the awareness amongst agridealers community in bringing good quality and environmental friendly products.

They should try their level best to enhance the capacity of the staff in the form of trainings for Soil survey and mapping and pest and pesticide management. Pesticides for instances will be allowed provided if the farmers are properly trained otherwise they are harmful both human and environment. In contrast, it seems we cannot do without pesticides.

I cannot deny that there is limited accessibility of financial resources for the farmers in Somaliland and that could be resolved among others either provision of credit to local farmers or creation off farm activities.

By Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi

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