An innovative business-driven solution

With the set-up of their research and development farm in Balad (the R&D site), it has been an eventful year for Somali Green Initiatives & Technology (SOMGIT).  Through an innovative NGO-private business collaboration with the Center for Education and Development, SOMGIT began engaging with local communities and authorities to introduce them to their pioneering water and agricultural solutions in hope that it will transform the traditional agricultural and irrigation system in Middle Shabelle.

Smallholding farmers in Somalia are highly dependent on rainfall but, with SOMGIT’s drip irrigation systems, farmers will no longer be limited to production in the rainy season and will be able to cultivate fruits, vegetables, and other higher-value crops that require more reliable water sources. The activities at the R&D site represent a pilot project that will act as a catalyst to generate improved incomes for local farmers and enable SOMGIT to grow its business.

In coordination with the government, SOMGIT cleared the equipment and supplies through Mogadishu Port and, in late November 2014, they were delivered to the R&D site for use by smallholding farmers. The equipment included farm tools and four new John Deere tractors to support the implementation of drip irrigation systems and the application of modern agro-inputs.

On delivery of the equipment and supplies, SOMGIT immediately cleared the land and began drilling a borehole. The company has employed over 50 people at the site, the majority of whom are from the adjacent village of Muryale in the Balad District. Muryale’s residents are excited by the opportunity to work and the prospect of learning modern agricultural methods. “This site is the only employment opportunity for the youth and women in the community” said a local elder.

The borehole at the R&D site is the only borehole for the village of Muryale. Previously, the village depended on the Shabelle River for all its water needs. “This project is a great opportunity for the community to improve its livelihood, over the years we lost many crops due to the poor rains and continued drought” said a local farmer in Balad. SOMGIT is now installing a solar-powered water pump and electricity supply at the site to deliver further benefits to the local community.

SOMGIT’s vision is to promote local economic growth and employment through new water and agricultural systems and thereby contribute to peace and stability. With support from the Stability Fund, SOMGIT aims to drill more boreholes in the region and further support communities by establishing farming associations and training farmers in the use of modern agro-inputs and drip irrigation systems.