Sometimes the best solution isn't the most expensive. Sometimes, it's the simplest - and the cheapest. When we sat down with farmers in Annayo and talked about how to tackle the water problem that so many of them face, ideas abounded. Drip irrigation, metal storage tanks, cement storage tanks, drilling new wells...the list went on. But then a tip from a colleague ended up solving part of the problem in a straightforward way.... We bought the farmers segments of PVC pipe. The farmers can dig a hole and put the pipe in, with just a few inches showing. That way, the farmers can water the roots of those plants directly, which is especially useful for trees with deep and vast root systems. Not only is this solution cheaper, it's also more effective! Getting water straight to the roots allows more water to go where it's supposed to go, reducing water loss through evaporation. An interesting and innovative idea indeed! This change made possible by Mankind is My Business. … [Read more...] about Simple Innovation
Access to water is something that many of us take for granted, but it was by and far the most common challenge we heard when speaking with farmers in Annayo. In such a dry climate, water is incredibly precious. For farmers, it's something they depend on not only for themselves but for their crops, livestock, and livelihoods. Access to water is the difference between planting things year round or not, and sometimes whether or not they can sustain their farms. "I am a mother of ten, six girls and four boys," said Khadija Aan. "We use income generated from the farm to help send the kids to school. I have one well and one pump, but it is not enough to supply the whole farm." Many more farmers than Khadija expressed a need for new pumps for their wells - so we bought them all machines! This will be a game changer for many of the farmers who might now be able to plant in the dry season - and will help increase their production throughout the year. This change made … [Read more...] about An Oasis
Even though we were able to buy all of Annayo's twenty farms a variety of tools, it was clear to us that, well, some farms just needed a few more. One such farm, headed by Mohamed Elmi, was a clear example. Mohamed and his wife live on the farm with their nine children, their spouses, and a total of sixty grandchildren! The number of people living there has grown substantially over the years, but the number of tools has not. "The farm is my only source of income," said Mohamed. "Before, I could manage, but now it is getting so big, I can’t keep up with it! The farm is starting to get older and bigger than even me! The biggest challenge I have? My age! Another big challenge we face is having enough tools for all of the labor we have on the farm." We bought farms like Mohamed’s additional tools - and especially more shovels! Shovels are so versatile and can be used in so many ways - planting new trees, digging irrigation channels, or working on some small-scale … [Read more...] about Can You Dig It?
While some farmers in Annayo told us they had an abundance of labor and shortage of tools, others simply felt they didn’t have enough people to help on the farm - even though there's lots of work to be done. That was especially true on farms that are nourished by rain - they're usually much larger than irrigated farms because they try to do as much as they can during the short rainy seasons. This means that these farmers are busy - it can be tough to work all the land at once. "The main challenge that we face is that we don’t have manpower for the times of the year we most need it, despite all of the work to be done," said farmer Nimo Adan. To help remedy this problem, we gave vouchers to farmers that they could use to rent a tractor! Many of the farmers told us that even a few hours with a tractor would help them maximize their potential for the year. In this case, we got vouchers that could be used specifically for field preparations. This way, when the farmers are … [Read more...] about A Tractor for Your Time
Milk - from a cow, camel or a goat - is beloved in many parts of Somalia. But keeping this milk cold for transportation can be incredibly difficult, especially when refrigerators are few and far between. Many times, milk is stored in old jerrycans or transported in plastic bags, leaving it vulnerable to contamination. That's a risk not only for the person consuming it, but also for the person relying on money made from selling it. When speaking with farmers in Annayo, we found that many of them are drinking milk from their livestock, but one farm is producing enough milk to sell it for consumption in Hargeisa, the closest big city. "During the rainy season, we use extra milk produced by our livestock and sell it to residents of Hargeisa," said Nimo Adan. "We store the liquid in plastic bags or jerrycans." To help the farm better cool the milk they're collecting to sell, we got them a cold storage container! Luckily for us, we even found a machine that can both cool … [Read more...] about Got Milk?
Bugs are a nuisance. For most of us, they're just undesirable creepy crawlers. But for farmers in Annayo, pests can mean the difference between a bountiful harvest or a difficult one. The farmers told us how pests, especially insects, are affecting their yields, and how this problem has recently worsened due to changes to the climate. Not only do higher global temperatures mean that an increased number of pests are able to survive the winter or cold seasons, but changes in temperature are affecting the nutrition levels in leaves, forcing insects to eat more to get the same amount of nutrients. Pest management in Somalia has gotten much more difficult. One of the farmers, Ibrahim, spoke to us about his personal experiences with pest management problems in Annayo. "With climate change, pests - especially insects - have become much worse than in the past." To help farmers tackle this problem, we purchased a large pesticide spray bottle for every farm in … [Read more...] about Pest-y Business
The farmers in Annayo grow a variety of crops. And they also face a variety of challenges - every day is different, every morning a new puzzle to work out. Sickles help solve a few pieces of the puzzle. They can be used for cutting long grasses and cereals, but they can also be used for small-scale weeding and clearing unwanted plants. However the farmers will use them, having the tool was the most important part. So we made sure all twenty farms received sickles to complete their toolkit! Now, the farmers will have a full set of tools: shovels, hoes, axes, rakes, loppers, shears, and now, sickles. So many options - so many ways to solve a problem! Abdi Mohammud told us about the different projects on his farm that he juggles, and how multiple tools will go a long way in securing a livelihood for his family. "My father established the farm in the late 1960s, but he recently passed away and I am now the head of our household," he said. "I have some cattle, some … [Read more...] about Last Piece of the Puzzle
If you’ve ever tried to cut a small tree branch with a pair of scissors, you’ll know how difficult that endeavor can be. So when scissors just won’t cut it, we turn to garden shears. Lucky for us, we could get proper shears for all of the farmers in Annayo to use to ensure they can cut, prune and manage all plants big and small on their farms! In a farming community like Annayo, desert weather leads to tough plants that are hard to beat, but with every farm housing a set of loppers and set of shears, they’ll be able to manage these plants and tend to the land in the way they want to. "We have lots of land but we cannot grow anything else because there are too many bushes and trees in the way," said farmer Nimo Adan. With these shears in hand, Nimo will unlock access to all the land he needs! This change made possible by Mankind is My Business. … [Read more...] about Shear Fun
Driving through the Somali countryside, you can pick out giant mango trees along the road. In some communities, these mango trees might be 40 or 50 years old, with deep roots and plenty of shade. In some cases, they’ll grow to 90 feet high and 80 feet wide. In Annayo, we saw many mango trees and would often find ourselves sitting under the oldest trees to meet and talk with people. And many of these farms had an abundance of fruit trees — mango, papaya, lemon, orange, a lemon-orange hybrid we’d never before seen or tasted! But to make an orchard thrive, the trees need to be pruned and cared for. If they aren’t, the weight of the fruit might cause a branch to break off or, in the worst case, for the tree to topple over and die. To help the farmers deal with this problem, we bought all twenty farms loppers! The loppers had long arms, so the farmers can reach even some of the tallest spots on many of their trees. "With more tools, we will be able to have more people … [Read more...] about Bearing Fruit
A barber has many gadgets for clipping, shaving, and shaping - farmers and gardeners are no different. They need the same sorts of options to manicure and maintain their land. And when the farmers we spoke with in Annayo expressed a need for more tools, we wanted to make sure we covered all of the bases. So today, we’ve gotten all of the farmers rakes! The farmers use these tools to break up clumps of soil, pull out stones, debris, and weeds. They can be used to prepare land that’s never before been used. And, they can also work to combat the effects of climate change by mixing fertilizer and compost or spreading mulch over the soil to retain moisture and improve its quality. "I used to be a pastoralist, but then I switched to agriculture in the late 1990s and for this reason, my farm isn’t quite as established and strong as many others," said Ahmed Hassan Mohammed. "We have faced a lot of challenges because of this — the land isn’t well prepared, the well is not as … [Read more...] about Raking It In