(ERGO) – Ali Mohamed Adan, a farmer in El Barde, in southwestern Somalia’s Bakool region, has started farming again thanks to the distribution of free seeds, giving his family fresh hope after their previous crops were twice destroyed by locusts.
He was among 60 families in his village of Abeesaale, 30 kilometres from El Barde town, who were given seeds in mid-March. Ali received two kilos of beans, five of sorghum, and five of maize and vegetables, which he planted immediately after ploughing his farm.
“I have high hopes of harvesting good crops once we get the rain,” Ali told Radio Ergo.
Ali’s family had been pushed into very hard times after locusts destroyed all their crops last June and then again in December.
On top of that, the livestock they had were in poor condition from lack of pasture due to the dry season. He had to sell off three of his 60 goats in February and another three in March to buy food for the family, as they had no income from the farm.
“I sold the goats in Hiran and Beletweyne livestock markets. In Beletweyne, the goats were sold for a very low price,” he grumbled.
He lost the entire $600 he had invested in planting his 20-hectare farm and has a $400 loan from a relative to pay back.
Abdiwali Bare Osman, co-ordinator of the ministry of agriculture for the Southwestern regional administration in El Barde, told Radio Ergo that the seeds were distributed by the ministry with support from international NGO, Action Against Hunger.
The initiative was aimed at enabling those families worst hit by locusts as well as drought to get back on their feet and continue farming.
Officials identified 213 farms in six of the 54 villages in El Barde district that were devastated by locusts, after the swarms crossed last year from neighbouring Hiran into Bakool. Around 550 families were left extremely vulnerable and needing support.
Olad Abdi Isack, 64, an agro-pastoralist, was among 80 families in Qurac-joome village, 120 km from El Barde, who received seeds on 24 March.
He said 12 of his goats had died since November due to pasture and water shortage. His family of 12 has been surviving on one meal a day.
“We have been living on donations of food and some money from relatives I call when our situation deteriorates,” said Olad.