Farmers in a village near Hargeisa have seen their fields of vegetables and other crops washed away by flash floods that came unexpectedly after months of severe drought in much of Somaliland and other parts of Somalia.
Ibrahim Aw Isman, the chairman of the local farmers’ association, told Radio Ergo that 180 farmers in the village of Alala-ad village, 60 kilometres north of Hargeisa, had lost their onions, tomatoes, barley, peppers, mangoes, and other produce
They are now struggling to make ends meet as they rely on sales of their produce in markets in Hargeisa, Berbera, and Denta.
Ismanknew of 45 farms and 15 wells that were destroyed by the floods.
“They lost their farms and the wells that they dug with their bare hands. The farms are all wasted now, and these farmers had just emerged from biting drought,” said Isman.
SayidDa’ulJama, 49, a farmer and herder with a four-hectare vegetable farm and 50 goats, said they were not expecting such heavy rain and so had not taken any precautions.
“My farm is submerged under floods and the big trees you see on the other side of the hill are the only things left of my farm,” said Sayid.
He would normally make $700 to $1,000 from sales in Hargeisa. He had planted onions and various other vegetables and was expecting to start harvesting this month.
He is depending now on credit from a shopkeeper nearby to buy food for his family of five children. He has run up a debt of $80.
Sayid told Radio Ergo he would have to sell off his livestock in order to restore his farm and he is looking for a buyer.
Another farmer in the village, Mohamed Omar Osman, 45, invested $1,000 to plant watermelons on his one acre in February and was expecting to harvest in May.
“The floods came from that side and went through my farm, leaving nothing. They buried everything including the well,” said Osman.
Osman has no other source of income and his family of nine children is relying on his brother for food.
“What can I plan now? You can see how the place has turned out. There isn’t a single plant left there – but we will try our best to recover,” he said.
Hassan Samrie Elmi, the coordinator of the agriculture ministry in Laasgel district in MaroodiJeex region, told Radio Ergo that a team from the ministry was taking stock of the full impact of the floods to see how many farms were affected.
Elmi said people living in Hargeisa and other urban areas would also be indirectly affected by the loss of produce. An estimated 114 farms in the village normally supplied the major towns with fresh produce.
“We will try to help the farmers affected by the floods so they can get their farms going again and we will try to bring in a tractor to help them,” Elmi promised.
Sanaagfarmers’association chairperson, Ise Hussain Mire, who also has a farm in this area said he had rushed to see what he could do but was unable to salvage anything from his four-hectares of land planted with various vegetables. He knew of 37 farms affected, describing the situation as “hopeless” because their livelihoods had been lost.