(ERGO) – Two graduates from Jazeera University in Mogadishu have initiated a new method of growing animal fodder to help pastoralists in central Somalia to manage their livestock during periods of drought.
The method known as hydroponics is a way of growing crops in water rather than in soil.
Hydroponics farming is a new practice in Somalia and could avert deaths of many livestock during dry seasons.
The graduates, financing themselves, have been training local pastoralists on this method of growing millet.
Radio Ergo’s producer Fowzia Barre spoke to one of the graduates behind the scheme, Anfa’aYussuf. Anfa’a explained they had chosen to grow millet using hydroponics method. He explained how it works.
Anfa’a: At first, you put the grains into a basin and add water then leave them to soak in water until they swell for 24 hours. Then, you take a basin with holes at the bottom and put the seeds inside and cover with polythene bag.
The grain bursts and roots sprout followed by a shoot appearing on day three. The green fodder grows further on day seven. It can all be fed to your livestock. The fodder is a combination of the shoot (green fodder), the root and the germinated seed.
After the seed germinates, you splash on water, it does not need much water. So every six hours, you water it once. Then what you will get is fodder of length of between 10cm – 12 cm but not the millet stock.
Fowzia: Do you use the normal millet seeds we know or there is a specific type?
Anfa’a: No, it is the normal one.
Fowzia: So when you use this method, what you are expecting to grow is fodder, not grain?
Anfa’a: Yes, you get fodder. This method of growing crops in water rather than on soil allows you to have fodder in the shortest time possible.
There is a difference between planting millet and growing hydroponic fodder. Planting millet in soil needs time, soil and a lot of water and it also needs pesticide. But growing hydroponic fodder does not need any of those. For instance, this region, people are pastoralists. Those with limited space can use their homes to grow the fodder.
Fowzia: What is your aim?
Anfa’a: Our target is to reduce the impact of the recurrent droughts. This fodder drastically reduces the time a farmer spends looking for fodder and increases milk production. It is ideal for small and large-scale farmers.
Fowzia: How did you introduce the method to pastoralists?
Anfa’a: First, we showed them some already grown hydroponic fodder then we explained the method to them in detail. We told them how to grow it and demonstrated it.
Fowzia: How many people have you introduced this method to?
Anfa’a: About 100 people.
Fowzia: Which places have you visited to introduce it?
Anfa’a: We have visited several villages including Laanle, El-baraf, Libiley, Jalaqben among others.
Fowzia: Have people already tried the method?
Anfa’a: Yes, there are several people in Guriel town now practicing it.