(ERGO) – “It is the farming season and the rains have started, but we don’t have anything to plant!” Ali Hussein Yussuf, a farmer in Amaara, in central Somalia’s Mudug region, told Radio Ergo despairingly.
“We depend heavily on the farm for a living. I would have sold some of my 30 sickly goats, but they are too weak to sell for anything in the market.”
Ali is among 1,500 farmers in the area without any seeds to plant, following a series of disasters including repeated failed rains and waves of destructive desert locusts.
After his last harvest in June 2020, Ali planted some of the seeds he saved, only to see all the crops on his three hectares wither away due to a dry ‘Deyr’ season. The drought was prolonged, shriveling up the pasture for his goats. He was unable to get a loan to buy the seeds he needed: 25 kgs each of beans, sorghum, grain, sesame, and watermelon.
His family of 13 has been surviving on food bought on credit from the local shops. He has accumulated a debt of $457. His only option now is to graze his goats on pasture that grows in the rain and hope they will recover enough to support the family.
“Only God can help us through this period if we don’t get assistance. You can feel the hardship someone goes through when they lose their only source of income,” he said worriedly.
Education has been disrupted for Ali’s two sons and his daughter, who stopped going to school in November 2020. They had already been at school for six months without him paying their fees, but he could no longer promise the headmaster that he would be able to pay when the harvest came.
The local farmers using irrigation from the wells appeared at first to be better off than the rain-fed farmers like Ali, until the locusts came and wiped out everything.
Mohamed Yussuf Guleid lost $500 worth of crops he had planted to the locusts on his two hectares in October 2020. Half of that money was a loan he was hoping to repay after harvesting.
His eight children are down to eating two meals a day with a relative whose income comes from a small restaurant.
“The farm was our only source of income. I haven’t planted now because I don’t have the seeds. I am very worried,” he said. He would have travelled to Galkayo and Adado to borrow money but he has no contacts in either town.
The head of Amaara administration, Yussuf Salad Mohamoud, appealed to humanitarian aid organisations and Galmudug state government to give the farmers seeds to plant.
“We call on the authorities, businessmen and good-willed people to help the farmers with seeds, farming tools or pesticides,” he said.
He said 30 farming families had left Amaara for Adado town after facing food and water shortages in the rural area. The administration feared that lack of farming activities would cause more to leave.