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Greenhouse farms in Baidoa provide a secure living to displaced families

Monday July 8, 2024

Fiiday doing her daily job of harvesting the farm produce/Abdullahi Mohamed/Ergo

Displaced families in Baidoa, southern Somalia, say that a greenhouse farming project set up to provide sustainable livelihoods for them has uplifted their living standards.

Fiiday Ali Ibrahim, who lives in Garasweyne IDP camp, has been growing fresh produce such as tomatoes and lettuce as part of group running a greenhouse farm outside the city. Two other women in her team sell to suppliers, local restaurants and grocery stalls in Baidoa.

Fiiday gets $5-6 a day as her share of the income, which enables her family to eat three meals a day and also cover their other needs.

“This work means happiness for me and my family. It has facilitated a lot for us. If one of my children gets sick today it’s easier for us to manage,” she said.

Fiiday, 43, has been the sole breadwinner for her family of nine children since her husband gave up work after being injured during manual labour jobs.

“I am a mother and I used to be worried about everything – how would my children get food, how would they get an education, and how would we transform our lives,” she said.

Fiiday and her family were displaced from Busul area, 21 kilometres from Wajid in Bakool region, in 2021when severe drought destroyed their three-hectare farm and killed their 40 goats. Since arriving in the IDP camps she had been hawking sesame sweets in the streets of Baidoa, making about $2 a day.

Three hundred people, including 205 women and 95 men, are now working on 29 greenhouse farms set up by the NGO, SOS Children’s Villages, serving communities in Buula-fiin, Horsed and Garasweyne IDP camps.

As these people were mostly farmers, they could adapt to cultivating under greenhouse conditions.

Mohamed Isgowe Ali, 47, said his wife and seven children have been given new opportunities by the greenhouse project.

“A lot has changed in my life; part of the change is that my children are now going to school for the first time. Previously I was unemployed,” he said.

Mohamed works with 14 others on a greenhouse farm, watering the crops and cleaning. They grow tomatoes, spinach, pepper and lettuce and make a good income from their daily sales.

He has built a three room iron-sheet house for his parents after taking a $3,000 loan that he is paying off $50 every month.

“My parents didn’t have a house – I have got them one. I also support their bills. There has been a positive change. I hope to get an even bigger farm one day and I’m working towards that,” he said.

Mohamed and his family were forced to abandon their four-hectare farm in Derbi-biyodle village, 70 kilometres from Baidoa, in 2021 because of the devastating drought. They left the village to join Horsed IDP camp in the city, hoping to find help and alternative livelihoods.

SOS Children’s Villages provided the infrastructure and equipment for the greenhouses, including water wells and pumps for irrigation, and leased the farmland for five years from December 2023.

“The importance of this project is in creating sustainable livelihoods for the beneficiaries so that they can support their meals and children’s education,” said Ali Abdullahi Suleyman, the coordinator of SOS in Baidoa.

Ali said the IDP families used to receive occasional aid that ran dry after a few months, whereas the greenhouse farms are a long term project to support the vulnerable families. He also noted that greenhouse farms require less water compared to conventional farms.


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