Displaced farmers in Baidoa get seeds to return to plant their farmsPhoto | Khadijo back to work on her farm near Baidoa/Muxudiin Xusni/Ergo
(ERGO) - Khadijo Yusuf Haji has just returned home with her family to their small farm near the southern Somali town of Baidoa to take advantage of the recent rain by planting some food crops.
Khadijo, 38, spent the past three months living with her seven children in a crowded IDP camp on the outskirts of Baidoa town, where they moved after the drought killed all their livestock and dried up their land.
Now she is back in Salbuy, 18 km from Baidoa, and has planted one hectare of the land they own with three staple food crops - maize, sorghum and beans.
“I hope this time I can put aside some of the produce as food reserves and buy livestock from [the money I make from selling] the first crops I harvest,” Khadijo told Radio Ergo.
The seeds were donated by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), as part of a three-month programme to return some of the large numbers of displaced people in the region to their homes.
This part of southern Somalia has suffered severe effects from the drought that still threatens to escalate into a famine, despite the onset of rain in some places.
Kassim Mohamed Aden, NRC representative in Bay and Bakool, said 157,000 displaced pastoralists and farmers in Baidoa and the surrounding areas benefited from the programme.
The families come from Bonkay, Sulbuy, Rebay, Ismodnoy and Lanbule villages. Some have had previous assistance from NRC to clear and plough their fields. Others were selected from among the most vulnerable people living in IDP camps in Baidoa.
Each family will receive cash assistance of $70 a month for three months, with two months’ cash given as an advance. The cash is intended to help the families during the period ahead of harvest time.
Khadijo said the cash enabled her to buy food and milk, but to buy all the family’s basic needs she relied on her husband sending money occasionally from Baidoa, where he had a job breaking stones for construction sites.
Kassim Mohamed Aden said NRC was aware that there were many more people in need of such help.
“The purpose is not only to create livelihoods for these families, but we also want their produce to reach out to the whole country and for the other families who are still in the camps to be able to emulate them by returning home,” Kassim said.
Another farmer Hassan Hussein Maye, 70, told Radio Ergo he had also planted beans, sorghum and maize on a hectare using the NRC seeds and cash. “These crops grow in a short period of time and that is why I chose it, I want to get a profit quickly,” he said.
However, he is worried that drought may strike again leading to crop failure.
For four years, drought and water scarcity has made it impossible for him to grow anything in his field.
Hassan Maye, six of his sons and their children, spend the first part of their day cultivating other people’s farms to earn a living and in the afternoon they work on their own farm.
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