Somali farmers' lives improved through agricultural skills training

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Nuur Macallin Amiin oo dhex taagan beertiisa/Maxamed Xasan/Ergo Photo | Noor Ma'alim with his neatly planted onion farm in Dollow/Mohamed Hassan/Ergo

Radio Ergo 08 February, 2017 DOOLOOW

 

(ERGO) - Noor Ma’alim Amin, 32, was thinking of giving up on farming before he received some agricultural skills training that he says has changed his and his family’s life.

Noor, an onion farmer in Barabaray village, 36 km north of Dollow in southern Somalia’s Gedo region, has more than doubled his production and his income too by applying improved methods of planting.

“I used to use the method we farmers have used because our grandparents did so,” Noor told Radio Ergo’s report, who visited him on his farm in December. “Whenever I harvested the onions, the income I got was no more than what I had invested in the farm and paying the workers’ salaries.  Sometimes I couldn’t even get enough money for seeds so I didn’t plant in some years.”

Agricultural trainers from Danish Refugee Council (DRC) trained Noor and 55 other local farmers in Dollow three years ago on onion farming, and have been following up on their farmers progress ever since. 

The technique rests on planting the onion seeds in a nursery bed until they have sprouted two leaves, before transplanting them to the field in rows. Traditionally, farmers cleared the top layer of soil, dug trenches and scattered the seeds randomly. The holes often filled up with water and the seeds died.

Now, Noor uses half the amount of seeds as before to produce more than double the amount of onions. In December, he planted just five kg of seeds and harvested 350 bags of onions. Each bag sold for $20.

Photo | Noor Ma'alim working on his farm/Mohamed Hassan/Ergo

Noor, like other farmers in Dollow, sells his produce across the borders in Dollow in Ethiopia and Mandera in Kenya. 

The lives of many farming families in this area have improved as a result of agricultural skills training.

Hussein Shide Ali, 56, in Warirley village, told radio Ergo he was able to put three of his seven children in school for the first time two years ago after his production increased.

Hussein harvested 250 sacks of onions in December and has used his increased profits from the success of his farm to diversity his income by raising livestock.

“Since I started using this method [of onion farming] I began saving money.  I also created a new business in livestock and bought four more hectares of farmland for $8,000,” Hussein said.

He plants grass on his expanded farm to feed his animals and sells them in Dollow and Beled-Hawo livestock markets.  He sends $100 monthly upkeep to his children attending school in Dollow and pays $120 school fees for the three children every term.

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