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Supporting Somaliland’s smallholder farming communities

The challenge: As a sector, agriculture is a major contributor to Somaliland’s economy. Livestock remains the main export of the country but the agriculture sector contributes 15% of the national GDP and provides the mainstay for approximately 20-25% of the country’s population. However, only 3% of the total geographical area of Somaliland is under cultivation due to some key challenges. These include; drought, poor access to farm inputs, increasing land degradation, growing numbers of pests and diseases, limited farming skills, financial and structural barriers to entry and inadequate marketing services.  

Our response: The Pharo Agriculture Program in Somaliland implemented several interventions to reduce the key challenges faced by smallholder farmers. Some of the key interventions executed by the agriculture program include:  

  • Soil and water conservation: 

The agriculture program completed soil and water conservation projects in three different villages (Botor, Illinta, and Ilma-dado) to control the worsening land degradation and increase the agricultural production of rainfed farms. These farms were severely affected by soil erosion and gully erosion which vastly contributed to low agricultural yields.  A total of 1,070 soil bunds (180 metres each) were constructed and 52 farms with severe gullies were rehabilitated.  

  • Introduction of drip irrigation project:  

The program trained 180 rainfed farmers on drip irrigation installation and maintenance. The farmers received a full package of drip irrigation tools and 252 metres squared of geomembrane for rainwater harvesting. 

  • Enhancing farmer's skills and knowledge with demonstration farms, training and provisions:  

The agriculture program established demonstration farms to train and empower smallholder farmers. The program trained 120 irrigation farmers and some most crucial provisions and training topics included were:  

  1. Provision of key farm inputs: 

Poor access to farm inputs is one of the major constraints faced by smallholder farmers. The agriculture program provided key farm inputs to more than 300 farmers (both rainfed and irrigation farmers). This included cash crop seeds, pesticides, pesticide protection equipment (PPE), and insect traps for tuta absoluta, the most common and destructive pest of tomato in the region.  

  1. Training of sustainable fodder production and management 

More than 90% of Somaliland's agriculture system is rainfed or without a supplementary irrigation system. The grazing land has been declining due to overgrazing, poor rainfall, and extensive erosion. Indigenous pasture is usually out of stock and livestock and has no forage during the dry season. Therefore, to prevent frequent droughts and mitigate their impact, the program piloted a drought-tolerant fodder species and trained 90 farmers on sustainable fodder production and management. Also, the trainees received Brachiaria (Mullato II) seeds and other important tools to harvest fodder. 

  1. Community animal health workers (CAHWs) training 

The absence of veterinary service is one of the biggest obstacles faced by pastoral and agro pastoral communities throughout the country. The agriculture program trained community animal health workers and provided veterinary kits and vaccines.