Somalia, a one time major exporter of fruits to the world markets hopes to revive its export industry.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Abdulaziz Billow Ali
A banana export company was launched in December in the wartorn capital Mogadishu amid renewed optimism and hope that Somalia’s famous high-quality fruits and especially bananas will return to markets in Persian Gulf States and Europe.
Agricultural experts say that Somalia used about 12,000 hectares of land to produce bananas before the fall of the Siad Bare regime in early 90's. The industry employed roughly 120,000 people, boosting jobs and growth. But currently bananas are only being cultivated in some 3,000 hectares, which mainly provide a year-round local supply.
Banana production in Somalia started in 1927 in the Lower Shabelle region in the south, with more than 32,000 tones exported every year. The River Shebelle is a main source of water irrigation, supplemented by some use of groundwater from boreholes, when river levels are low.
However, exports stopped at the end of 1990. With the start of the civil war in Somalia. Farmers along the banks of the Shabelle River were forced to abandon their lands, which were forcefully taken over by al-Shabab fighters.
But years later, exports resumed and continued until 1997. During that year, bad weather and flooding destroyed most banana plantations once again forcing exports to stop again.
Before 1991, Somalia had a thriving banana industry, which made it the largest exporter in East Africa. Now with the establishment of new export companies, Somalia farmers hope to once again be able to supply world markets with high quality fruits from the horn of African nation.
A devastating famine in south and central Somalia claimed many lives leading to downfall in the production of agricultural products.
Almost a year after the UN declared an end to the famine in Somalia, a large percent of internally displaced people are slowly returning back to their native regions. These farmers say they’re ready to cultivate their lands with and become self-sufficient.