Awdal farmers in debt after wind and rainstorms destroy produce and fruit trees

400 farmers in Baki, Awdal region of Somaliland, have been counting losses as their farm produce and fruit trees were destroyed by heavy rainfall and strong winds that struck on 26 September.

Haybe Ali Kiban was growing tomatoes, onions and peppers that were washed away by gushing flood water. He was also growing lemons and pawpaw which couldn’t withstand the winds.

He and his wife and 10 children are now facing food shortage and eating one meal shared with other families whose produce has been destroyed.

Haybe said they would take items on loans from local stores although they too were affected by the unforeseen heavy rainfall and winds.

“Many different people have been affected. Including me, the people that sell us fuel, the farm workers. By God we have been faced with hardships. We are not depending on the farms anymore,” he said.

Whilst rain and winds destroyed much of his eight-hectare farm, the rest of the produce was smashed by hailstones.

Haybe said he had taken loans to buy seeds and fuel for his generator that he hoped to pay back in October when his produce was harvested.

The pawpaw and lemons had taken a year to ripen.

“I have lost 1,000 trees, they cost me $1,500. I took loans to buy the seeds and I have not paid that back. We will also have to get loans to pay the bills and the children’s education,” said Haybe, who estimates his losses to be around $5,000.

Five of his employees are waiting to be paid. With the pressure mounting on him, Haybe said this is his lowest ebb in 32 years of farming.

Ayanle Omar Aw-Hassan, who owns four hectares of farm land in Baki, was also hit by the same extreme destructive weather. He and his wife and 11 children are struggling to recover from the disaster.

Luckily his family had stored some 12 kilograms of rice which they use sparingly, eating just one meal or two in a day. They estimate the food in store could last them for three weeks.

He was growing onions, lemons, watermelons, pawpaw and peppers which were almost ready for harvest.

“The rain has affected our source of income. The ripe produce has all been squashed by hailstones, while the trees have been killed off,” he said.

He said almost 800 lemon and pawpaw trees were destroyed as strong winds uprooted some and others were broken by winds.

“It has affected the environment. The winds destroyed the trees, then there was flood water that led to soil erosion. We hope that anyone who can help us will help us,” he appealed.

The farmers’ association in Baki are now trying to work together to help by raising awareness among the locals to help the affected farming families.

The deputy chairman of the farmers’ association, Ismail Abdi Duale, said the families needed food and help with shelter.

“The food and everything they had was washed away. The farmers are trying to help each other but they have limited capacity, someone who gives you dinner for one night has done you a favour,” he said.

He added that they have shared their situation with the Somaliland government although they still await intervention.

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