Hopes of a good harvest of dates after a year-long wait for farmers in a village in northern Somalia’s Sanag region were dashed last week after a fire spread through their farms reducing everything to ashes.
50-year-old Habib Haji Yusuf was expecting to harvest dates from his farm in Buran village, where he had 12 date trees. The trees have been a source of livelihood for his family for generations. According to Yusuf, the farm has been in use for the last 100 years.
Sadly, the fire reduced burnt down 40 farms, including Yusuf’s. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
“The dates would have been harvested between June and July. We used to sell them in markets in Sanag and Bari regions,” Yusuf told Radio Ergo. “We also had vegetables, but the whole farm has now been emptied.”
Yusuf’s 15 member family depend on the farm and he is worried about what they will eat.
Maryan Osman Aware’s farm was also burnt. She has been farming in Buran for the last 39 years but there are no returns for her this year.
“I was at home, which is not far from my farm. At first, we saw smoke rising in the sky and when we reached there, the fire was spreading very fast to the neighbours’ farms,” she said.
She was a supplier of dates to the markets in Badhan, Dahar, and Bossaso towns.
“My 10-member family and our relatives have felt the loss because previously we were quite well off, everything was fine until this tragedy happened,” she said.
Maryan called for support for the farmers from well-wishers, as they have nothing to eat.
Abdirashid Ali Gelle, the state minister for agriculture, led a group of officials who visited Buran to investigate the fire.
“We have recorded all required information from the farmers. We need to establish the cause of the fire,” he said.
The minister added that the authorities would support the affected farmers to recover from their losses.
“There is huge destruction here, we are going to share the information with the government and the respective agencies. We hope these families will be helped as soon as possible.”