by LOISE MACHARIA
Monday August 14, 2023
AGRI-TOURISM Julia Kamau, Head of Programmes Gender & Agroecology Markets at Seed Savers Network, Kenya ,displays indigenous maize seeds. during a presentation. She was the lead facilitator during the three-day tour of the Somalian team.
Image: LOISE MACHARIA
A group of farmers, development partners, academicians and business people from Somalia has been on a three-day tour of Kenya for an agricultural tour.Programme Manager of the Environmental Peace Building Project under the International Organisation for Migration in Somalia Rikka Tupaz said Somalia has been experiencing prolonged drought for the past few years and the lessons learnt would definitely be beneficial if implemented back home.
The team toured different farms in Naivasha and Gilgil sub-counties of Nakuru County were they learned techniques on conservation agriculture, seed selection and saving, rain harvesting, food forests, kitchen gardens and dry gardens.
Speaking on their second day at Seed Savers Network in Gilgil, she said the trip ignited ideas not just for IOM but also for working with other organisations such as City University and Uros9 who were part of the group that visited SSN
Tupaz whose project works under Community Stabilisation said the goal of environmental peacebuilding is to achieve peace in an environmentally sound manner
She said the visit to Toured Seed Savers Network was meant to help them understand the objectives of saving seeds because agriculture is part of the environment and environmental peacebuilding.
“The team is looking into ways that it can implement participatory activities in Somalia in a regenerative manner that also respects traditions, cultures and community approaches,” she said.
She said there was a possibility for them to implement the seed savers concept in Mogadishu after further consultations within the team and management
“Seed savers project could be anchored at City University for farmers across Somalia to participate,” said Tupaz.
She added that the team saw rain-fed forests which are regenerative plus the dry land gardens such as the double-dug beds and vertical gardens which can be applied and replicated in Somalia, especially in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs).
IOM consultant, Ambia Guhad said communities in Somalia were coming back together over time and would need to use the interventions to create social cohesion and unity.
She said in the project area, women were the bond, the peacemakers who bring communities together when men are out fighting during the clashes
She said the Environmental Peace Building Programme was conducting different activities such as vegetable farming, kitchen gardens, restocking, camel leasing and markets where we have small-scale financing or business enterprises.
Guhad said they are hoping to form cooperatives and have people from different clans coming together to work and build businesses.
“Following the long drought, people have lost their livestock and we are trying to create different or alternative livelihoods for them without conflicts, tension or fear,” she said.
She said the project was targeting women, youth, the elderly and people living with disabilities to improve their status, increase their participation in decision making and ensure food security.
She observed that women suffer the most when there is a shortage of resources including food in the family because they prioritise their spouses and children.
“After the tension, we find that most families are dependent on their women who are engaging in small-scale business enterprises because there are not many jobs for men,” she said.
She appreciated IOM saying that it had created markets, established stalls and connected them to solar power and water supply besides offering training to farmers and traders.
She noted that conventional agriculture was very expensive because people are compelled to buy many inputs which they cannot afford.
“The team has learnt so much at Seed Savers Network such as using the available natural resources, inter-community connections and using farmers’ indigenous seeds that are adaptive to the environment,” she said.
Guhad added that the climatic conditions of Naivasha and Gilgil are close to the ones they have in Somalia and they were taught about seeds that can grow in such places and how to improve food security using small-scale growing of vegetables.
Executive Vice President at City University in Mogadishu, Abdulkareem Jama said the team learnt agriculture techniques that minimize the use of water in arid lands.
He observed that most of Somalia, especially in the middle and the north of the country is very arid with decimal rains.
He said finding techniques to grow food with the smallest amount of water is very attractive.
“These are techniques Somalia can use not only to ensure food security but also for teaching agriculture students,” he said
He added that they learnt about plant breeds that grow with minimum water, rain harvesting, setting up nurseries, seed selection and saving, and local seeds that do not require constant purchase.
“We have greenhouses and hardly a month goes by without having to spend between 500 dollars and 600 dollars to buy seeds so we have been greatly inspired by the seed bank at Seed Savers Network."
Jama said the group would communicate to the larger team the necessity of setting up a seed bank in Mogadishu.
He said the group would probably work with IOM on a seed bank adding that they would also establish an exchange programme with Seed Savers Network.