Ibrahim Osman Ahmed, 56, is a happy man after harvesting 180 sacks of lemons and 30 sacks of maize from his farm in Warirley village, in southern Somalia’s Gedo region, in December.

His success, he says, is all down to the agricultural training he received in the use of organic liquid manure as a fertilizer.

“I am telling you, if you do not apply manure in your farm you will face hunger,” Ibrahim told Radio Ergo’s Mohamed Hassan who visited him on his farm, 40 km from Dollow.

“I used to spread manure in the field without preparing it and this lead to crop failure.  I would never get more than 30 sacks of lemons and eight bags of maize.”

Ibrahim was one of the first farmers in Dollow district to receive training on liquid manure preparation techniques and other farming skills by the international NGO, Danish Refugee Council (DRC).  He grows tomatoes, maize, lemon, sorghum, beans and grass in rotation on his four hectare farm, irrigated from the river, and makes about $12,000 annually.

DRC agricultural expert Bishar Dahir Elmi said they have so far trained 70 farmers in Warirley on manure preparation since 2013 and all of them are using the technique on their farms. The training curriculum was designed to help the farmers meet the common challenges they face in this part of Gedo.

In his 25 years in farming, Ibrahim suffered many frustrations. The maize never used to grow well, the tomatoes attracted worms, and the lemon trees turned black and did not produce fruit.

Experts say the soil in this area has low levels of nutrients. There is also a high density of invasive shrubs (Prosopis juliflora) and other types of grass that hinder crop growth. Chemical fertilizers have to be bought from Mogadishu or Mandera in northeastern Kenya and cost $60 for a 25 kg bag.

People in Warirley are agro-pastoralists so accessing manure from their animals is not a problem. But spreading the manure untreated only furthers the spread of weeds.

Ibrahim is a faithful practitioner of the methods he learned from the DRC training. He explained the process of preparing the manure he collects from his livestock.

“I put manure into sacks and put them inside a barrel half full of water, and cover the barrel so other particles do not get inside. For 20 days, I shake the barrel once a day. When the manure dissolves in the water so the water looks black, I remove the sacks, add an equal amount of water to the solution, and then apply the liquid in my field (…) I apply the manure easily to crops whilst I am ploughing and I apply it under every lemon tree.”
He has stored his recent maize harvest to ensure his family has enough food to last through the current drought. The lemons were sold to companies in Mogadishu for $3,240. This allowed him to enroll three of his children in school.

Ibrahim says he does not worry about food any more, and is planning to increase his production even more in order to raise his nine member family’s living standards.

Since his agricultural production increased, he has bought 55 goats and cows. The animals feed on grass he planted in some parts of his field. He also bought an extra four hectares for $5,000 last June.


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