In Somaliland farming contributes between 8% and 15% of the GDP, as livestock production and exports are the backbone of the economy and the biggest hard currency earner for the country.
Due to the importance of livestock, Somaliland Government treats it as a different sector and has a separate ministry dedicated to livestock. This section of the Investment Guide discusses only farming and allied areas to cultivation in Somaliland.
It is estimated that less than 10% of the land is suitable in agriculture. Despite being erratic and often scanty there are nevertheless two main rainy seasons. These are Gu or spring (April and June) and Deyr or autumn (September and October), in between these two rainy seasons there is also Karan (late July through September) most occur in the western regions.
The farming in Somaliland is predominantly subsistence in nature. The principal grain crop grown under rain fed conditions is sorghum, followed by maize; and both crops are grown primarily for household consumption by small-scale farmers. Fruit and vegetable corps, which are relatively small, are grown mainly for commercial purposes and the principal commercial crops are tomatoes, lettuce, onions, watermelon, peppers, cabbages, oranges, lemons, and papaya. Rain-fed farming accounts for 90% of the total area cultivated, while the area under irrigation constitutes only 10%, supporting about 4,000 farm families. The sector is dominated by smallholder farmers who own farms ranging from 2 to 30 hectares in area. The average farm size is approximately 4 hectares. During the dry season, irrigated farms make good profits, because the supply in the vegetable and fruit markets is low in this period. The shortfalls are usually filled by imports from neighboring countries such as Ethiopia and Somalia. In recent years, cultivation of watermelon has emerged as an important source of income for the farmers. Presently, watermelon is the only fruit crop that is exported successfully to Djibouti.
In Somaliland there are a number of major players in the agriculture sector and these are noted below:
1. Producers (Farmers)
- Staple food producers
- Fruits/Vegetable producers
2. Input & Service Providers
- Sellers of seed, fertilizers, pest/insecticides, tools, equipment and machinery
- Tractors and machinery hire service providers
- Grain mill operators
3. Marketing Service Providers
- Grain market sellers
- Green market sellers
- Ministry of Agriculture
- Local governments
- Chamber of Commerce
- Local and international NGOs
- Academic / research institutions
- Technical advisory support organizations
- Cooperatives and farmer’s associations
The demand for agricultural products such as grains, fruits and vegetables is expected to grow substantially due to the population growth and the improvement in standard of living.