Why Indigenous Seeds matter?
Seed is the most important input in agriculture and is the most precious thing to a farmer. Our indigenous seeds are sustainable, but are lost due to the import of hybrid seeds which are not sustainable. The indigenous seeds can be sustained for thousand years because our local farmers know how to select, collect, keep and store it.
Many farmers in Somaliland are rejecting modern farming technology of farming and are resorting to traditional methods of farming for better yield. The modern technology is characterized by the use of hybrid varieties, frequent applications of fertilizer and pesticides.
However, they are searching for indigenous varietal seeds because they are perfectly adapted to extreme changes in our climate avoiding to total dependence on hybrid seeds.
We have many indigenous varieties of sorghum, and maize and each one of them has a particular quality, trait, productivity and adaptability to the environment. Some of these varieties are resistant to drought, salt, water logging, and local diseases. We need to conserve them for future use.
Crop yields are relatively low compared to other developing countries with similar climatic conditions. One of the main factors of low production is among others attributed to imported hybrid seeds which are not resistant to local environmental conditions for instances drought, salt, water logging, and local diseases.
To this end, Somaseed is a National Project funded by FAO and EU aiming to improve genetic quality of indigenous seeds in Somaliland and also to enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and farmers’ organizations. Through the program, their skills will be upgraded to handle plant testing, plant breeding, and basic seed production and establishing a seed certification system. This will diversify the seed market in Somaliland and make locally produced improved and certified seeds available to farmers. In turn, this will reduce dependency on imports and responds to both the demand of the agriculture sector and emergency situations. The activities of the project is included indigenous Seed sourcing from the local farms and circulating the seeds among the farmers to grow and multiply. In this way, the project have managed to re-introduce over thirty indigenous varieties of cereal and pulses. But it is not about the indigenous seed of Somaliland or about the survival of sustainable agriculture systems with the knowledge of over one thousand years. It is about a global phenomenon taking place where non sustainable system systematically destroys a sustainable one where short term profit has the power to overwhelm common sense and the consciousness of many millions, where progress is not progress but the wanton destruction of an ecosystem and environment.
We will never be able to produce more if we do not begin to repair the environmental damage taking place in our environment. We will lose not only our cultural identity but our fundamental right to truly sustainable system of food security.
Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi