From an Illegal Migrant to a Buoyant Farmer
Published July 5, 2016 by Abdullatif Osman
Mohamed Ahmed Nur, a 38 years old father of 4 children, lives in the agriculture-rich Yubbe village, 60 KM north east of Erigavo, Sanaag. He never imagined his life, opulently entrenched in pastoralism, will one day turn to farming for subsistence. Too difficult to adjust to the transition, he thought of seeking a better life abroad, even if he had to cross borders illegally.
He started farming on a plot of land he owned in the village, which yielded small harvest, so much so through trial and error.
“I was the third farm to be established in the town. I thought it would not yield much harvest when I started farming,” he muttered.
He persisted and continued, relying on his limited knowledge of farming and support from family, putting only seedlings of tomato and watermelon. Half of it was damaged before it yielded any harvest, to insects and unfavorable weather conditions.
With funding from USAID, Adeso was able to support him and other farmers in farming techniques, providing them with farming tools such as wheelbarrows, hand cultivators, and shovels.
“The tools helped us to plough and harrow large areas of land easily,” he says.
He recounted how his farming skills were transformed as a result of an exchange visit to other farming lands to learn skills on farming, use of natural fertilizers, and irrigation.
Mohamed is very proud, his farmland is now two hectares wide, growing a variety of crops such as tomatoes, carrots, onions, watermelon, cabbage, beans, maize and sorghum. With his hard work taken as a symbol for productivity by locals, they, too, started to take farming seriously.
Currently, the village is home to 32 farms. From the income he generated from sale of crops, he managed to build his own house, lead a happy family, and see his children join school, laying the foundation for a better life.
“Fruits and vegetables used to come from as far as southern Somalia or Ethiopia,” said Mohamed, describing how costly and unreliable the supply of agricultural products to the village was. “Now we supply the village and other nearby cities and towns,” he added.
Apart from his farming duties, he also leads Tawakal, a local cooperative society established by the village farmers with the aim of meeting their economic and social needs. In a typical day, all the farmers congregate early in the morning to work on their farm, sowing, plowing, and contouring and harvesting the produce, to marketing and selling their yields to nearby markets.
“We work on our farms as a group, one at a time,” he says. “Then, we move to the next, and the list goes on. We share everything, including the costs and the benefits.”
Mohamed wouldn’t imagine how his life would be if he embarked on the risky journey to what he thought was a better life in Europe. He now admits that he is where he belongs, on his farm together with his family.
“You could make life here,” he says.
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