Seeds and cash have been distributed to around 7,000 drought-hit farming families displaced within southern Somalia’s South West regional state, to enable them to return home and plant their farms ahead of the Gu rainy season expected to start soon.
Radio Ergo’s local reporter in Baidoa met one of the farmers, Abdullahi Mohamed Adan, who received the seeds and cash. He was packing up his belongings in Iidale IDP camp on the outskirts of Baidoa. Abdullahi said he was returning to Mukuudo village, 23 km away, with his oldest son to plant their farm. He was leaving the rest of the family behind.
“I would love to relocate all my family who have been facing hardship in the squalid camps, but that is not possible as we can’t be certain about the rain. I hope to bring them all home if the rains are good and we can get a good harvest,” he said.
Abdullahi, who lived as an IDP for a year and half, said he is very happy to have received the seeds. In the past planting seasons, since he was living in Baidoa, he had always hoped to go home to resume farming but he lacked the seeds, and the rainfall was also very little.
The seeds and cash distribution is organised by the South West state’s agriculture ministry in collaboration with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The director of the ministry, Abdi Siraji, told Radio Ergo the seeds include maize, beans, sesame and vegetables and are intended to help people resume their previous lives at home. The project, which began distributions in February, targets 15,000 displaced families ahead of the Gu rains. The families each get $69 loaded onto a cash card to cover them for a three month period starting from March until the expected harvests.
Until recently, only 100 families had gone back to their fields. The project is aimed at incentivizing more to return home.
Mumino Abdullahi Abdi and her family have just returned to Misgaale village, 18 km south of Baidoa. She told Radio Ergo they have started cultivating their six hectare farm.
The family lived in Towfiq camp outside Baidoa for a year and eight months. They relocated to the village using donkey cart and tuk-tuks, costing 150,000 shillings ($6.5) that Mumino paid for using her cash card. The cash cards can also be used at certain stores.
She said it is the first time that her family will be planting crops after three years of failed rains.
The Gu season from March to June is a primary cropping season in many parts of Somalia. However, the forecasts predict below normal rainfall in most regions of the country. Many parts of Bay region may receive little rain.
If the harvests do fail again, though, those family members who returned to their fields will come back again to the IDP camps.