Agriculture in the Somaliland Protectorate

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Peck, E. F.
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The Somaliland Protectorate is potentially a rich grazing land, from which Somalis obtain their livelihood by raising sheep, camels and other stock; arable agriculture plays only a small part in its internal economy, but with the steady adoption of s-orghum as the staple diet of the people farming is becoming more general. There are not, however, many places in which farming can be carried on, but there still remains a number in which arable agriculture would be worth trying. That enterprising person, the so-called Mad Mullah, who caused considerable trouble and expense to us in past years, cultivated many places which are not worked to-day, but which could yield crops of grain. The urge to settle seems to be latent in Somalis and if they are given suitable conditions many of them would prefer the sedentary life of a farmer to the hard nomadic life which is now their lot. This nomadic life amongst depleted pastures continually necessitates the breaking up of families in order to tend the stock, the camels being sent to one grazing and the rest of the stock to other more suitable pastures. It is this arduous life and the search for grazing which is driving the Somalis southwards; they do not want to leave their country, and usually in their later years they return to it, but when there is not enough grazing the compulsion to push on southwards is irresistible. The present lot of the Somali, particularly that of the women, is extremely hard, their environment is grim and cruel, comfort and real happiness are not theirs, and those who decry the Somali would do well to remember his environment. To the south of Somaliland lie many miles of rich grazing land which the Pax Britannica has made available to everyone. This land is sparsely watered and so is to a very great extent unused, but with a little imaginative foresight it is capable of arresting the southward drive. Should many large dams be constructed in this area and markets be provided for the excellent Somali mutton, the reason for the exodus from home would cease to exist, that is always provided that the grazing and water were properly controlled.Lastly, the problem of the migrating Somali affects, and will affect, in increasing degree, all the East African territories. One of the major solutions to the problem clearly lies in making Somaliland a better place for the Somali to live in, by turning him into an arable farmer where this is possible, and where this cannot be done, by developing markets, water supplies, and a system of controlled grazing based on natural boundaries.
East African Agricultural And Forestry Journal, 9 (IX), p. 42-46