Somaliland needs badly agricultural policy encouraging technology transfer to increase local crop productions both for small scale farmers and large scale farmers in the country. It is not an easy task; it requires endeavors regarding formulation of policies on food self-sufficiency, by boosting domestic production of major food staples with technology transfer and mobilizations of resources both human and natural accordingly, then the sector will definitely turn out to be industrious. They should implement policies with the goal of achieving a specific outcome in the domestic agricultural production. Outcomes can involve, for example, a guaranteed supply level of seeds, fertilizers, pesticide, machinery and technology transfer.
Food is imported on a larger scale than ever despite the fact that we have the land and appropriate climate to grow any crop in addition to the capital needed but food production is at low levels and it has to be increased more than the present levels to satisfy the needs of our people. Much of the increase would have to come from intensification of agricultural production despite land use planning concept is missing which determines what parts of a community will be used for farms and what parts will be used as forestry and other uses. Nevertheless, the government authorities should bear in mind that there is a dilemma regarding achieving a higher crop production rate using agronomic practices, pesticides, nutrient management, and machinery and the need to slow down environmental degradation and whichever agricultural programme that is to be carried out should be sustainable or else we will fail to deliver goods.
In fact, people with higher degrees in the agriculture sector are under utilized and should be exploited for the better as consultants and head of departments for the concerned ministries with funds to be sought either from the government or UN and INGO to prevent brain drain of the line ministries. To that end, the ministry of agriculture is required to fully utilize the human resources available in the country in order to make use of the existing opportunities both within international organizations and local economic resources. The ministry of agriculture in Somaliland has to take up the challenges in the direction of the higher crop production rate to this end they need to prepare a chain of Agricultural development projects for donor organizations and the propagation of relevant technologies made available to improve the crop yield in the country.
Moreover, there are also prospects for enhanced Somaliland agriculture sector in general and food production in particular if reports on the project completed by the UN and INGO working in the field of agriculture are better utilized. Even though those organizations made project reports available to the concerned ministries up to now they are not utilized for the benefit of the country simply the government do not have strong policy, capacity and willingness to do so whereas our government are more or less busy on political issues rather than producing enough food to its citizens. If the concerned ministries had written projects in this regard for donor agencies; we would have been closer to food self sufficiency. However, we are far from reaching that goal. If we want to start is not too late just a commission has to be set up for agriculture whose tasks are among others Agri research, trainings, policy guidelines, quality of the food items.
Until today the current government did not address the severity of the food insecurity in which this country is suffering and the future generations are on the risk because they are exposed to bad quality food which in turn passing to them with diseases and the consequence is appalling than ever. Even though the government appointed quality control commission, they are not doing enough. The local businessmen are importing bad quality food. They should have grown food locally instead. It is in the need of the hour to go arm with arm with one another both government and people alike to make a difference. To overcome this problem, the ministry of agriculture needs to mobilize economic heavyweights in the country in order for them to seize the existing opportunity in the food industry. The government has to offer to investors the arable land for example Wajale plain for the cultivations of wheat, rice, barley and oil seed crops which are required in the country. If there are impediments within the government system discouraging businessmen to enter into the field then measurable steps has to be taken to remove that barrier.
The production of crops like wheat gives rise to the manufacture of flour and rice for local consumption thus making rice cheap and affordable. Furthermore, opportunities also exist to grow crops like sunflower which is an oilseed crop for the manufacture of cooking oil in the country and similar opportunities are out there in the poultry and dairy farm. The outcome of these projects is money that had been used for importing essential food stables could be utilized for other developmental projects. It is ironic that our country exports livestock but milk is imported and on the other hand food and vegetables produced locally are not free from contamination of pesticides and are not fit for human consumption as well as imported food items are not the exception. Somaliland government does not have rules for governing domestic agriculture and imported agricultural products and so everybody sells deadly pesticides on the streets alongside food without fear.
The concerned ministries should monitor the use of pesticides in the country for that the line ministries need to seek cooperation on the subject with UN and other INGO’s involved in the field of agriculture and environment.
Thus, we should bear in mind that food that is imported cannot be guaranteed and it could stop at any time war is breaking out somewhere in Asia. We need to produce more food locally and reduce the reliance on food that is imported and for that reason; the government has to make strong interventions regarding the matter. To that end, we need a man who writes a name on the history of agriculture in Somaliland who is convinced that food could be secured and produced locally with affordable prices than ever.
By Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi