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Nugal farmers switch from vegetables to cereal crops as water remains short

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Farmers in Jibagalle village in drought-hit Nugal region have turned from vegetable to cereal crop production due to the shortage of water.

Jibagalle, 18 km from Garowe, received very little rainfall at the beginning of last year and nothing since then. The water levels in the wells are not enough for the constant irrigation vegetable farms require. Furthermore the farmers have suffered an array of pests and diseases that have ruined their recent harvests.

This month, farmers in the village switched to maize, beans and millet on the 30 hectares of land comprising 60 farms. Hassan Yusuf Karshe, deputy director of the Puntland farmers association, said he has also turned away from vegetable growing. He explained that cereals take 70 to 110 days to grow and need to be watered only twice, whereas vegetables need watering more than eight times before harvesting.

Cereals are also selling at a high price in the area, with a 50 kg sack of maize selling for around $40.

Karshe used $360 to plant his farm. He bought maize seeds from Garowe and planted on a portion of his four hectares. He hopes to plant more if the anticipated Gu rains arrive at the end of April. These new cereals are vital to their own survival in farming.

Farmers share the limited wells and the engines that pump water to the fields. The largest wells can only water six farms at a time.

Nadifo Ali Liban, 46, told Radio Ergo she had not harvested anything from her tomato farm in the last two years. Tomatoes, normally very profitable, have been badly affected by insects.

Three years ago, Nadifo used to earn around $15,000 from tomatoes on her 1.5 hectare farm. Now her hopes rest on the cereals she has planted. As a single mother of 13, including 10 children in school, Nadifo wants to be able to pay back her loans and stop feeding her large family off credit.

Abdiaziz Ismail Garad, a farming expert, has been campaigning for the development of Puntland’s agricultural sector for two decades. He said the new crop production will be key to the availability of food for people. Livestock will also hay from the cereal plants to keep them fed in the dry season.

Abdiaziz says local grain production will reduce reliance on expensive food brought in to the area from distant areas in southern Somalia and Ethiopia.

Briefing Room

Somalia’s Puntland region asks UAE to stay as Gulf split deepens

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BOSASO, Somalia (Reuters) – Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region urged the United Arab Emirates not to close its security operations in the country after a dispute with the central government, saying the Gulf power was a key ally in the fight against Islamist militants.

The dispute goes to the heart of an increasingly troubled relationship between Gulf states – divided by their own disputes – and fractured Somalia, whose coastline sits close to key shipping routes and across the water from Yemen.

Analysts have said the complex standoff risks exacerbating an already explosive security situation on both sides of the Gulf of Aden, where militant groups launch regular attacks.

The central Somali government said on Wednesday it was taking over a military training program run by the UAE.

Days later the UAE announced it was pulling out, accusing Mogadishu of seizing millions of dollars from a plane, money it said was meant to pay soldiers.

“We ask our UAE friends, not only to stay, but to redouble their efforts in helping Somalia stand on its feet,” said the office of the president of Puntland, a territory that sits on the tip of the Horn of Africa looking out over the Gulf of Aden.

Ending UAE support, “will only help our enemy, particularly Al Shabaab and ISIS (Islamic State),” it added late on Monday.

SUSPICION, RESENTMENT

The UAE is one of a number of Gulf powers that have opened bases along the coast of the Horn of Africa and promised investment and donations as they compete for influence in the insecure but strategically important region.

That competition has been exacerbated by a diplomatic rift between Qatar and a bloc including the UAE. In turn, those splits have worsened divisions in Somalia.

Puntland, which has said it wants independence, has sought to woo the UAE which runs an anti-piracy training center there and is developing the main port. The central government in Mogadishu last year criticized Puntland for taking sides in the Gulf dispute. Qatar’s ally Turkey is one of Somalia’s biggest investors.

One Somali government official said last week Mogadishu had decided to take over the UAE operation because the Gulf state’s contract to run it had expired. Another official said the government was investigating the money taken from the plane.

The competition among Gulf states in Somalia has fueled accusations of foreign interference and resentment in many corners of Somali society.

The loss of the UAE program could have a destabilizing effect, said one security analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The value of the UAE trained forces was two-fold – they were relatively well trained but, most importantly, they were paid on time,” unlike other parts of the security forces, the analyst told Reuters.

Somalia has been mired in conflict since 1991.

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Briefing Room

Puntland Police on Alert as Somalia Terror Threat Moves North

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For years, Somalia’s northern Puntland state has been more stable than the country’s volatile south, but that picture may be changing. Police in Puntland remain on alert amid a string of attacks over the past year by Al-Shabab and another group of fighters who have joined the Islamic State terror group. For VOA, Jason Patinkin reports from Puntland city of Bossaso.

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Puntland

As climate change parches Somalia, frequent drought comes with conflict over fertile land

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PBS — Desert sand is slowly taking over Somalia. Just six years after the last major drought emergency, the rains have failed again — a devastating trend in a country where around 80 percent of people make their living on the land. Special correspondent Jane Ferguson and videographer Alessandro Pavone report on how climate change is threatening a way of life that has sustained Somalia for millennia.

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