Boosting Domestic Food Production in Somaliland

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On January 10, 2018 in Hargeisa – given the fertile land available in many parts of the country – Somaliland Minister of Agriculture – HE Ahmed Mumin Seed convened a 3 day Formal Consultation Conference on how Somaliland can achieve Food Self-Sufficiency from own production instead of relying imported staple food.  Many agriculture experts and highly skilled individuals in farming are invited to the conference to devise a strategy towards that end.

 

Farming or agriculture involves growing food plants and raising livestock for human consumption as well as for exporting surplus to foreign countries.  It is done at individual, community, and/or industrialized levels.

This article looks at the staple food farming that is routinely consumed in large quantities. Therefore, farming usually falls into two main types: small scale farming run by families or small communities and mainly relies on the rainfall or wells for irrigation in producing their everyday life food; on the other hand, there is large scale commercial farming that is either a state-owned, co-op owned, or investors-owned and intended for profit making. In such farming, a single crop or mixed crops can be grown. For instance, maize is used as staple food in many pars of the world. Also it can be processed to make a wide range of products like corn flour. Furthermore, it can be used as livestock feed.

If the conference is exploring and concerned with increasing the domestic food production and how farming and agriculture is to be improved in Somaliland at commercial and large scale level, a solid strategy that makes possible many farming projects in different districts nationwide should be put in place.

Undertaking commercial farming needs good fertile soil, constant water supply, and skilled agricultural workers. Additional requirements include: construction of big dams adjacent to the farming projects, importation of agricultural machinery like tractors, and availability of cheap housing for farm workers in the vicinity of projects.

Wheat Crop

Obviously considering all these, major agricultural developments like this in discussion cost a lot of money and Somaliland government has no budget and resources to implement such projects because, as our nation yet to be recognized, securing funding from the international banks and foreign direct investments (FDI) would not be an option. Such funding goes through global regulations and bureaucracies Hence, Somaliland citizens should step up to the plate to invest in this sort of development by collaborating know-hows and pooling resources. Somaliland has been blessed with wealthy individuals – whether they live inside or outside the country – who are capable of funding and financing this kind of projects

Somaliland people need to learn from Seawater Greenhouse – A UK based company – which started constructing a green house farm of about one hectare pilot

Horticultural Manager Abdi-Hakiim, Somaliland Seawater Greenhouse Project

proect near Berbera (The site is located 17km west of Berbera) on April 5, 2017 using seawater and solar power. First harvest of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers – all grown using only sea water has been successfully reaped as report by Green House on Jan 24, 2018

Potatoes

The environment and the atmosphere facilitating, encouraging, and supporting domestic financing for developmental projects have to be legislated by the government. These legislation should address rules governing resource sharing and pooling, providing incentives, easing regulations, and placing effective oversight processes.

If the new administration in Somaliland is serious about the domestic food production at commercial level, the discussion should be a comprehensive one rather than a meeting spearheaded by one ministry. A major conference dubbed as “DEVELOPING AGRICULTURE IN SOMALILAND” must be convened and concerted actions and efforts of six relevant ministries to this endeavor along with Central Bank of Somaliland and Somaliland Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture have to be coordinated in harmonious fashion that complementing each other :

  1. Ministry of Agriculture
  2. Ministry of Finance
  3. Ministry of Water Resources
  4. Ministry of National Planning and Development
  5. Ministry of Trade and Investment
  6. Ministry of Commerce
Cabbage

The six ministries, the central bank, and the chamber should come up with Joint Exploratory Committee of Experts who would make recommendations and gather feasibility study on how commercial farms of at least 1000 hectares each (1 million square meters) owned by local commercial farming companies can be initiated.

  • The Ministry of Agriculture should explore either the wetland or the localities with good soil fertility in the country.
  • The Ministry of Water must check the prospective localities for such projects if they have an adequate water supply. The water source can be a natural reservoir, retention ponds, dams, or underground water that cab be drilled waterproof, or waterproof, or drill-able underground water.
  • The Ministry of Finance should provide the preliminary funds to be used for implementing the projects as a loan.
  • The Ministry of Investment must comply a company law specific for this sort of projects that motivates and attracts investors and at the same time gives strong confidence in the system. The government should guarantee the protection of investors’ assets and on the other hand the local residents should be given the opportunity of leasing their land and getting preference in hiring.
  • The Ministry of Commerce should bring together the potential shareholders who want to invest in these projects. They can be either from the business community, from the public, or from the Somaliland Diaspora.
  • The Ministry of Planning should align these projects with the Five-Year National Plan and seek funding and know-how from the international organizations such as the World Bank and the UN agencies. Further, it must promote and encourage the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to be injected into these projects.
  • The Central Bank of Somaliland should create an Agriculture Investment Bank and its shares or stock should be offered to public to get the working capital of the institution. It must be managed by a Hybrid Board of Directors from the public as well as from the government.
  • Somaliland Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture should act as an independent oversight agency that monitors the management of these projects

In the past, the government had ultimate control over all the undeveloped land in the country, but now that power has shifted to the local residents who claim the ownership of every inch of it without paying any taxes and without attempting to make it useful. This challenge can be overcome by either buying or leasing the land from the locals to make it productive.

 


Omer A. Yussuf Oakland, California USA Somaliland First Initiative