SSG and IGAD meets with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries and the management of CERD, Djibouti City.
In the period of July 13-16, 2021, a team from SSG visited Djibouti to agree with public and private partners on the roadmap for farmer access to new vegetable and forage varieties. At this point most of the seeds used by Djibouti farmers so far are imported from other countries which has become difficult in the COVID 19 era. It is reported that the Djibouti government is now prioritizing a plan for local food production.
During their trip the SSG team assessed the human capacity and the infrastructural setup conducive to the deployment of the SSG approach of mobilizing public and private partners along a sustainable seed value chain.
The key government offices that will boost the system are the Directorate of Agriculture, led by Mr. Mouktar Mahamoud, and the Research Center CERD in the Ministry of Research, led by Mr. Abdouraman Daher.
Mr. Abdul Fatah, MAEF researcher, inspecting eggplant seed production at the MAEF research station in Damerdjog.
The Directorate of Agriculture will provide overall guidance to the project and ensure that individual farmers and farmer groups are involved in conducting farmer awareness raising activities and growing the crops (tomato, onion, okra, and eggplant) for seed and for the market. The Directorate of Agriculture delegated some of its staff to accompany the SSG team on farm along the Djibouti coastal areas in Douda and Attar, as well as in the hinterland at Medina and at Dikil, near the Ethiopian border. This was an opportunity to see how much the Djibouti government and some donors have invested in irrigation and screenhouses in support of individual farmers and farmer cooperatives. This was started almost immediately after the country’s independence with focus to help settle the nomadic groups around water pumping and cropping activities. The Ministry of Agriculture staff in the central and regional offices will be tasked to organize seed production along with selected farmers. Thus there will be hundreds of farmers in each region that will benefit of the SSG initiative through the training of Ministry staff who will in turn train local farmer extensionists known as Village Based Advisors (VBAs), who will be especially tasked to distribute small packs of seeds to some 2,000 farmers for adoption.
Sorghum Sudangrass intercropped with date trees on a private farm near Dikil.
The CERD will take full responsibility for testing new improved varieties of tomato, onion, okra, and eggplant which will be introduced by SSG from the top international vegetable research center WorldVeg. The SSG team visited some of the experimental research stations, discuss with staff and confirm the suitability of the land, screenhouse and irrigation infrastructure for the testing and seed production activities. Some of the staff in the Ministry of Agriculture will jointly work with the CERD in the testing.
During the field visits farmers were very eloquent in showing their high level of interest in various crops, fodder and animal husbandry, their practical understanding of soil and water management issues, with some used to introduce and experiment new crops and seeds. On the latter, the SSG team registered an alarming and unanimous call by farmers for better quality seeds than what they are being served through importations.
One farmer summed it very well in a short statement “Aside from water, our biggest problem is seed.” In similar situations elsewhere, SSG staff helped countries bring the best seed possible to the farmers and with the priority given to seeds by the government of Djibouti, the mission concluded on the clear relevance of the intervention to the lives of the country’s 2,000 vegetable producers.
The Djibouti activities and the trip are part of the IFAD-funded program, “Building Back Better: Rural Livelihoods Recovery Initiative for the Greater Horn of Africa”, which covers Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia.