Somalia’s post-conflict banana harvest revival
Afgoye, Somalia – Early morning showers fade into the distance as thick rain clouds give way to the piercing rays of a tropical sun, revealing wet, dark brown fertile soil. About 30 people emerge from the shades of full grown mango trees, woven baskets made of dried banana leaves in one hand and a sharp Panga – a machete – in the other.
They are farmers attending to a large banana plantation in Somalia’s farming capital of Afgoye, a riverside town some 30km south of the country’s seaside capital Mogadishu.
Holding a measuring ruler in his hand, Ahmedey Abduqadir leads the group of mainly female farmers through the muddy canals that snake through the plantation, to the far end of the farm where the fruit of the right size and shape are to be harvested.
He takes his time placing the ruler on selected fruit in the bunch of low hanging bananas, checking that they are of the right size before chopping them off and placing them in the baskets to be transported to a waiting vehicle.
|Banana farmers are returning to their plantations [Hamza Mohamed /Al Jazeera]|
The mood is upbeat and banter flows back and forth as they negotiate their way through the endless canals with banana loaded baskets on their backs.
“I cut bananas for one to three vehicles every morning and we send them to the city. We are very busy,” Ahmedey Abduqadir told Al Jazeera, his feet covered ankle deep in the mud. He has been a farmer for more than twenty years.
“Things are much better than before. Before because of the conflict there were not many jobs here but now many of us work almost every day,” Abduqadir added, as his colleagues cheered in the background.
Fruits of conflict
Demand for the fruit has never been higher in the last two decades. Abduqadir, along with more than hundred other people, has found employment on this farm where they all work six days a week supplying Mogadishu’s dining tables.
Before the country’s bloody civil war, which toppled the central government in 1991, Somalia’s banana industry was the continent’s biggest. But it was destroyed because the warring sides not only looted the enterprises that processed and exported the fruit, but made farming on the banks of River Shabelle and Juba – Somalia’s two main rivers – too risky SOURCE ALJAZEERA BY BASHIR HASHI YUSSUF XIGASHO