Sustainable Agriculture in SomaliaSustainable agriculture is defined as “the production of food, fiber or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities and animal welfare.” Somalia is in the third year of a devastating drought that has left about half of the population (six million people) facing severe water and food shortages. Sustainable agriculture in Somalia is part of the solution for those that are experiencing these scarcities and searching for a way to survive.

The Somali Agriculture Technical Group (SATG) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating sustainable agriculture in Somalia via homegrown solutions that are both practical and scientific. The SATG has preserved seeds specifically tied to the Somali culture, improved production techniques for higher yields and trained and collaborated with numerous people at the local, regional, national and international levels.

One example of its triumph is the return of the Filsan mungbean. The Filsan mungbean is a staple in the country because of its quality when cooked, its large seed, its early maturity and its high yield that is uncommon among beans. In the beginning, Filsan was introduced by Bonkaay Dry Land Agriculture Research Station. However, before it was able to be introduced at a scale level, the Somalian government collapsed and the introduction was put on hold.

With the help of the World Vegetable Centre in Taiwan, the Somali Agronomist’s Association and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in Nairobi, the SATG was able to develop and distribute over one ton of Filsan seeds to farmers in the middle and lower Shebelle regions.

After the collapse of the government in 1990, the general population was left in the lurch. People began relying on their neighbors for assistance rather than the government. Grassroots organizations began to expand and become integral parts of communities all over the country. The SATG provided farming machinery, higher-yield seeds and training packets on how to get the most out of the land. The organization actively pushes for the spread of knowledge and the goal of independence.

The training modules that the SATG strives to make common knowledge are full of information on the plant being grown, how it should be cultivated and how to keep it producing for as long as possible. The SATG also provides informational booklets on specific pesticides that should be used to protect plants from harmful pests.

Sustainable agriculture in Somalia is growing and becoming more common as people come to realize that they must take action now for a future with food security. While resources may be limited for farmers, access to help and knowledge is ever-present and available. From local residents sharing tips on growing tomatoes to an organization that donates tons of seeds to those in need, sustainable agriculture in Somalia can only be beneficial.

– Irimar Waters

Photo: Flickr