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WATCH: Somalia: Greenhouse farming to combat food insecurity

Saturday March 30, 2024

Somalia has long suffered from food insecurity. Years of civil war, frequent droughts and recent flooding have led to malnutrition.However, a new crop of young and ambitious farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs are driving an agricultural revolution by introducing modern agricultural practices.

Simple greenhouses allow farmers to produce fruit and vegetables all year round, increasing food security for the residents of Mogadishu.

With over 250 greenhouses dotting the outskirts of Mogadishu, these farms are pivotal in ensuring a consistent food supply to Somalia's capital.

The country has experienced extreme weather in recent years with prolonged drought and devastating floods. 

Somalia's food security has also been hit by the actions of militant groups like Al Shabaab.

Only in the past few years has Somalia begun to find its footing after three decades of chaos brought by warlords and extremist groups.

The emergence of greenhouse farming is seen as a way to allow farmers to grow fruit and vegetables for the local market.

Abdurahman Mire, the director of 'Green Life Company' says the idea behind the venture was to make the country more self-sufficient.

"We observed that most of the vegetables consumed in Mogadishu were imported from abroad. This drove us to venture into smart agriculture, utilizing greenhouses and irrigation systems. Our aim was to provide produce to the market throughout the year."

The growth of the sector has created employment for young agricultural graduates like Mohamed Mahdi.

"I am thrilled that companies behind these new greenhouse businesses have created job opportunities for us," he says.

"As young people, we make up 75% of the Somali population, and given the high unemployment rate in the country, we are grateful for the chance to work in our chosen field of expertise," he adds.

According to Somalia's National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate for people aged between 15 and 24 years is currently 30.1%.

Local supermarkets in Mogadishu prominently feature products from these greenhouses, drawing praise from customers like Sucdi Hassan.

"Knowing that these vegetables were produced locally makes us feel secure," she remarks. "I hope our local farms continue to produce more and increase their output."

Mohamed Barre, the Minister of Youth and Sports, praises the initiative for contributing to job creation and economic stability.

"The youth who initiated modern farming have made significant contributions to our country," says Barre.

There are however concerns about environmental viability of greenhouse farming.

The method requires substantial energy for lighting, heating, and cooling, it is also water-intensive.

George Wamukoya, Team Lead at African Group of Negotiators Expert Support (AGNES) says that greenhouses offer a good solution to increased food security in Somalia, but warns that care must be taken to manage water resources.

“The small-scale irrigation is important, but it must be predicated on good science on the amount of groundwater (needed) so that you can be able to regulate its use and ensure its sustainability," he says.


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