Food production on small farms across Somaliland fell by around 75 per cent last year due to the prolonged drought and water scarcity, according to government estimates.
The last two rainy seasons failed in all but Gabiley district. Odweyne, Hawd, and Marodijeh regions, saw very poor harvests.
The co-ordinator of the Somaliland agriculture ministry in Marodijeh, Abdirisaq Sheikh Muhumed, said 40 per cent of the people in these regions depended on farming as their lifeline. These include subsistence farmers and those who have cash crops for sale, as well as others who grow fodder for their livestock.
Mohamud Jibril Osman, an agro-pastoralist, cultivated his land and planted ahead of the Deyr rainy season but the plants dried up. He has been selling off his remaining 43 cows and goats one by one to get some money to support his family of 10 members. Several times has had to ask for help from relatives.
Mohamud who lives in a rural part of Jufada district, 20 km from Gabiley, said he used to feed his family and animals from the farm, harvesting an average 50 sacks of maize and millet to use and sell.
Most farmers used up all the harvested grain they had in their stores within the six months of the dry Jilal season and the failed Gu rains.
Food prices have shot up sharply. A sack of maize has doubled in six months from $15 to $30. The food on sale in the market are coming mostly from neighbouring Ethiopia.
Abdirahman Hasan Aweys, an agricultural expert in the field for 50 years including as former ministry co-ordinator in Marodijeh, said it was likely that farmers might experience a repeat of the failed harvest again this year.
“When there is no way of getting farm produce, the people inherit poverty,” he told Radio Ergo. He warned that the scarce imported food from Ethiopia could not provide a long term solution to the food shortage in Somaliland.