Tuesday August 2, 2022
“I reached a point where I could not pay $30 for my eight children’s Koranic school fees,” said Farah, describing the days when his farm was abandoned. Half of his herd of 80 goats and six cows also died in the drought and he had to sell the rest to buy food for the family.
File Photo/ Ergo
(ERGO) – Water drawn from the river using solar power has renewed Farah Abdisalan Farah’s faith that he will be able to harvest once again on his farm in Bahad village in Somalia’s Hiran region.
He quit farming in early 2020, as the river Shabelle ran dry and the soaring fuel costs made it impossible to afford running a generator to pump water. It used to cost him a minimum of $500 to water his four hectares, 20 kilometres north of Beletweyne, if he expected a harvest. In addition,a the generator was constantly breaking down bringing more challenges and costs.
However, the installation of solar powered system to replace generators to pump water from the river, supported by Save the Children NGO and the local authority, have turned things around for more than 300 local farmers.
“We don’t think about fuel prices and low production, things are much easier now,” said Farah.
Another local farmer, Hassan Mohamud Godah, who owns one hectare just outside Bahad, said: “I was not able to plant any vegetables, the same as my colleagues. Anyone of us who had goats and cows resorted to planting maize for fodder for our animals instead.”
Now the solar pumps are ensuring reliable access to water, and there are no fuel bills, Hassan hopes to be able to pay off the debts he incurred over the last two years.
“The water is running for 24 hours non-stop. I have planted tomatoes, watermelon, green peppers and chilli peppers. It’s a bold step that I didn’t dare take earlier!”
Hirshabelle state’s agriculture minister, Yussuf Ahmed Yalahow, said the project aims to help farmers overcome their water challenges to enhance production. The solar system has been complemented by installation of new piping to reduce water wastage. It can be used by 360 farms daily.
“This is the first such project implemented in this region. Farmers had huge problems, among them the traditional irrigation channels that take months to dig and that burst several times in a month, wasting hundreds of litres of water,” he said.
The solar system has the capacity of watering 15 square km of land daily. The minister urged the farmers to take good care of the equipment, whilst expressing his expectation that shortly these farmers will have harvest that address the shortage of vegetables in Beletweyne and surrounding markets.