By: Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi
Somalilandsun – The method of cultivation in Somaliland has been primitive and there is a need of transferring farming skills and knowledge among farmer’s communities, stakeholders including to that of government institutions to ensure that scientific and technological developments are accessible to each and every farmer through agri extension agents.
Agriculture in Somaliland has not seen any improvements since its inception. Farmers do not follow scientific lines in order to produce maximum yield from limited land and for instances the preparations for environmental conditions suitable for optimum crop growth is inadequate and in the ensuing germination is reduced and crop yield is decreased due to the reduced tillage as information regarding the importance of tillage helping ensure proper environmental conditions for crop growth is missing.
I cannot deny the fact that the present government in general and the current minister for agriculture Mr. Farah Elmi Geedoole in particular has been serious about developing country agriculture. To this end, the minster has introduced rice varieties in 2011 for the first time in the history of Somaliland and has been able to grow in different parts of the country. In addition, they are studying several exotic fruit crops in a demonstration plots located within the premises of the ministry of agriculture; crops under study are alfalfa, strawberry, peach, apricot and apple to determine their performance and growth in Somaliland. If fruit crop trials were successful then funds would be sought from wherever possible to carry out the cultivation of these crops in the country on large scales.
The ministry of agriculture has also made endeavours to obtain tractors from FAO, seeds worth US $ 1 million from International NGO based in USA. They have also been expanded the premises by adding new offices to the blocks. The ministry of agriculture in Somaliland needs badly to address the following technologies necessary for improving the country agriculture and that is to say land leveling and agricultural mechanizations and constantly introducing useful crop species into the country. And it is in the need of the hour to change the current monocroping system into combination of different crops and livestock with crop husbandry techniques and good cultural practices. The long term policy of ministry of agriculture has to produce locally resistant varieties to control the disease.
They (ministry of agriculture) should also try their level best to set up soil laboratory in the country to analyze soil for free at least for few years or until people are adaptable to the system and farmers will be able to take soil samples from their farms for soil analyses, after analyzing the soil; they will be able to know the discrepancy between the existing soil fertility levels and to that amount of nutrients needed to fill the gap.
Moreover, we need crop husbandry techniques meaning anything that could increase the organic matter in the soil for instances leaf litter, composting and animal manure and application of fertilizers to the soil and efficient crop management techniques that is good seed, removal of weeds and application of water to the farm as needed as well as controlling the diseases. The combination of those technologies improves the crop yield. It could be made possible if trainings regarding the matter are given to the farmers on regular basis until they familiarize themselves with the technology. However, we need to mobilize the trained manpower and resources available to achieve our objectives far better than expected.
Local farmers in Somaliland do not apply fertilizers, manuring, composting and even do not rotate the crops. The importance of fertilizers can not be underestimated; we need to convince farmers to apply fertilizers in order for them to gain maximum yield from their farms. To that end; the ministry of agriculture has to mobilize resources available both human and capital to make a difference in the country’s potentiality for crop productions. As for the ministry of agriculture they should train human resources in soil fertility enhancement techniques such as methods of fertilizers application, calculations regarding amount of fertilizer to be given per hectare. It is in the need of the hour to act now to make a difference in crop yield.
In the rainfed areas, the situation is even worst as it is practiced to growing single crops again and again which has negatively impacted on the crop yield due to the decline of nutrient (as no fertilizer is being added to replenish the nutrients removed) and build up of diseases inherited from the earlier crops.
Eventhough pests reduce crop yields, pesticides are not the only options to control the pests; there are other methodologies that is effective and efficient in removing any diseased part of the plant or the plant itself remove from the farm otherwise the diseases would further spread to other crops and these are simpler but are disregarded by the farmers. I have observed improper pesticide use and application. Famers have to be trained for correct pesticide use, applications and means to dispose them off safely.
The other technologies that needs to be addressed are among others included agronomic practices such as plant to plant distance, row to row distances as recommended per crop, if we do not respect the aforementioned then, our local productions will remain less and less until zero productions are achieved. On the one hand, the ministry of agriculture would have to raise the awareness of the farmers regarding the negative impact of weeds had on the yield of the crops but on the other hand, farmers need to spend time and money to prevent the growth of weeds making sure that weeds are no longer a threat to crop productions.
Therefore, given above mentioned gap, Somaliland needs the agriculture technology transfer and innovation.
Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi