Somalia

Somalia is facing another food crisis: here’s why – and what can be done to stop the cycle

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The ConversationAuthors

Paul Porter Professor Emeritus, Cropping Systems Agronomist, University of Minnesota

Hussein Haji Executive Director of the Somali Agriculture Technical Group and Lecturer, City University of Mogadishu

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Ryan Gavin PhD Student, University of Minnesota

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Drs. Hussein Haji and Paul Porter helped create the Somali Agricultural Technology Group (SATG) in 2001. SATG is a Somalia-based NGO (www.satg.org) that has received grants from a number of aid agencies (including USAID, FAO, DFID, ICRC and the EU) to implement agricultural development projects throughout Somalia. SATG is apolitical, but does work with Federal and State agencies on agricultural-related policy development and training. In 2016, they started Filsan, a private commercial seed company with headquarters in Mogadishu. Dr. Haji is the executive director of SATG and president of Filsan. Dr. Porter is a SATG board member and professor emeritus in agronomy at the University of Minnesota. Ryan Gavin is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.

Hussein Haji, Ph.D., has served for over ten years with the Ministry of Agriculture in Somalia. He worked as a Senior Researcher and a lecturer of Genetics and Plant Breeding at the Somali National University. He has also served as the coordinator of the national sorghum improvement program and a director of the Central Agriculture Research Station (CARS) based in Afgoi. He traveled to Canada in 1990 where he obtained his M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Genetics and Plant Breeding at the University of Guelph. Soon after his graduation, he joined Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, where he served for 10 years as a lead scientist in the tobacco breeding and biotechnology department. During his service, he developed both open-pollinated as well as hybrid varieties using state-of-the-art technologies. While working with Agriculture Canada, Dr. Haji joined other agriculture professionals in founding the Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG) with the mission to bring peace and prosperity through sustainable agriculture development (www.satg.org). Dr. Haji is also the founder of Filsan Inc (www.filsansomalia.org). which is a private company engaged in introducing new innovative agriculture technologies with the vision to translate science into action.

Ryan Gavin has consulted with SATG in the past, but at the time of this writing, has no active commitments or engagements with the organization.

Since the fall of Siad Barre's regime in 1991, which led to a prolonged period of civil unrest, Somalia has been in a near-constant state of food insecurity. It also suffered two famines -- in 1992 and 2011.

Every year, between April and May (when food is planted and not harvested), aid agencies make dire predictions about the impending doom of the upcoming growing season and to appeal for funds to support increased food aid.

This year, Save the Children announced that millions of Somalis won't have enough food to eat as crop and vegetable production is expected to drop by 75%-80%. And the UN's 2021 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan seeks US$1.09 billion to provide "life-saving assistance" across Somalia.

As agricultural experts working in Somalia for the last 35 years we have done extensive research into food production. We have been involved in developing agricultural policies aimed at finding solutions to the country's stagnant cereal production with an eye on reducing food insecurity in the country.

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