Taking Action: Urgent Need for Agricultural Transformation in Somalia
By Mustaf I. Ali
Thursday, September 7, 2023
Somalia heavily relies on agriculture as a crucial source of livelihood for many people. Governments worldwide are striving to embrace agricultural transformation initiatives that address hunger and poverty.
The implementation of modern agricultural technologies, including genetically modified seeds and crops, during the Green Revolution, had a significant impact on global agricultural productivity.
Technological advancements in the agricultural sector have made it possible to improve productivity, reduce production costs, and increase access to higher quality and more efficient crops.
Agricultural production involves growing crops, ensuring the availability of agricultural resources, and producing various agricultural products such as grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy products, pesticides, and animal husbandry.
In 1962, the European Union (EU) countries established the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), a program aimed at transforming agriculture. This policy focuses on developing the agricultural sector, protecting farmers’ interests, ensuring the availability of agricultural products in EU markets, maintaining environmental balance, supporting rural development, directing agricultural investments, and ensuring reasonable prices for consumers.
Transforming agricultural production requires utilizing natural resources like land, water, manure, and air, as well as technology, skilled labor, tools, and innovative agricultural approaches. Agricultural production is the backbone of the global economy due to its vast diversity.
Why is it necessary to take action?
Somalia has been grappling with three decades of unrest and conflict that severely hindered its socioeconomic development, including the agricultural sector. The declining growth of the agricultural sector in the country has led to increased food insecurity, economic volatility, and severe droughts.
Nevertheless, significant progress has been made in terms of state-building, peace processes, governance, institutional revival, and homegrown solutions through regional and international partnerships.
With the soon-to-be end of the battle against Al-Shabab and the approaching completion point of Somalia’s HIPC initiative, the country is entering a new era of becoming debt-free and free from terrorist groups.
The recently released “Somalia Poverty and Inequality Report 2023” by the Somalia National Bureau of Statistics (SNBS) revealed that 54.4% of Somalis live below the national poverty line and earn less than $2.06 per day. Additionally, 20.9% of the population lives on less than $1.16 per person daily. Extreme poverty poses a severe issue in the country, particularly in agriculturally productive zones that are highly susceptible to droughts and displacements.
Nevertheless, agriculture holds the key to boosting the country’s economy as it possesses vast untapped natural resources. Despite its exceptional productivity and suitability for cultivation, around 98% of Somalia’s land remains unused.
Why does Somalia need agricultural transformation?
Undoubtedly, Somalia needs to transform its agricultural sector by moving away from conventional methods and promoting opportunities in the agribusiness sector. Agricultural transformation is not only necessary but also relevant for the country.
Several African nations, including Kenya, have taken steps to modernize their agricultural industries. Kenya’s agricultural sector is considered one of the best globally. Agriculture plays a significant role in the economy, employing 70% of the population.
Adopting modern agricultural practices, advanced technology, and innovative agribusiness strategies will significantly improve Somalia’s poor economic situation.
Furthermore, external actors can contribute to Somalia’s agricultural transformation by attracting foreign direct investment and fostering a boost in export and import activities.
According to the National Economic Council of Somalia (NEC), promoting the reform, repurposing, and implementation of agricultural policies, farmer protection rights, and agribusiness regulations is crucial to improving agricultural production and attracting foreign direct investment for economic development.
The Way Forward
Agricultural transformation is vital for the sustainable development of every nation’s economy. Currently, Somalia is at a critical juncture in its pursuit of achieving food security and national economic development. To achieve agricultural transformation in Somalia and successfully attain food security and economic development, the following measures should be taken:
1. Increase investment in agricultural infrastructure: Investing in roads, drainage and irrigation systems, water storage facilities, and transportation of agricultural products is essential to enhance agricultural infrastructure. This will minimize crop losses and improve farmers’ access to markets.
2. Foster the use of modern agricultural inputs: To increase crop production and improve quality, it is necessary to utilize modern agricultural inputs such as genetically modified seeds, safe pesticides, and improved fertilizers.
3. Provide training and agricultural education: Farmers should receive training on effective land and crop management, as well as the use of advanced agricultural equipment. This will enhance their skills and maximize agricultural output.
4. Promote environmental sustainability: Encouraging environmentally friendly agricultural techniques, such as biodiversity preservation, organic farming, and efficient water resource management, is crucial. This will ensure healthy soil and preserve the environment for future generations.
Addressing the current challenges in Somalia’s agricultural sector requires collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders, including the public and private sectors, with the support of international partners.
Lastly, while Somalia remains one of the world’s poorest countries, collective efforts to improve the national economy and eradicate poverty by developing the agricultural sector can provide long-term solutions to poverty, droughts, and food insecurity in the country.
Mustaf I. Ali
Somali researcher, passionate about Agri-Food, Climate Change, State-Building, and SDGs.