Majority of the people of Somalia are pastoral nomads. Camels (the traditional currency of prestige and wealth), sheep, goats and some cattle are raised in large numbers across the plains and range lands of Somaliland provide both daily subsistence and the economic backbone of the country. With an estimated 60 per cent of the population of Somaliland depending either directly or indirectly on livestock and livestock products for their livelihood, the East African nation has largely remained a livestock dependent economy and this has led to in recent years a wave of migration by young people mostly to Europe leaving jobs to be filled which no one was filling.
TEF Entrepreneur, Jama Yassin saw this rising trend of migration as an opportunity to go into Agriculture and inspire young people like himself to get into farming, especially the younger generation. This he has done successfully by setting up Hadi Farming, growing organic vegetables and fruits to the local population in Hargeisa where most are reluctant to venture into farming and 95% of the food are imported from neighbouring countries.
Jama and his team of 4 full time workers are currently gearing up in preparation for the start of the planting season where more workers will as part-time staff. Beyond his immediate business, Jama is passionate about starting an agriculture revolution in Somalia. This he hopes to achieve by training young people interested in farming and creating a farmer’s circle – farmer’s association in Hargesia, through which individual farmers will network and help each other grow.
In his little time since setting up Hadi Farms, Jama says he has learnt a lot on how much dedication farming requires “I have learnt how much dedication and effort farming requires. Every little thing matters so the attention to detail in every aspect of work cannot be overlooked. For example the season when I grew tomatoes, when the crops were ready, I took it to the market to sell. It was selling at $5 for 1 kilo. Just a week later the market was flooded with so many tomatoes that the price was reduced all the way to $1 for 1 kilo. This experience changed my strategy totally, I need to now plan better and be more prepared.”
Like all other entrepreneurs, Jama has challenges, the biggest of which is shortage of water. Hargesia, Somaliland is known to face a severe case of water scarcity was threatening the masses, agriculture and lives of the families, he tackles this challenge by investing funds to building larger water storage ahead of the planting season. Also, a challenge for him and his team at Hadi is the wind factor, a large population of monkeys and security but he believes tackling these challenges is what makes him a better entrepreneur.
On the TEF programme, he says “One great success and push for me was getting recognition from far west Nigeria while being in East Africa, when people around you don’t quite have faith in your idea, it gives great energy and power to get recognition from afar. I’m ever grateful to Mr Tony Elmelu and the foundation for this. The TEF programme has been the support/backbone I needed. It gave me the extra pat on the back I needed to go on this journey of entrepreneurship. The programme has taught me to be more organised, more methodical and more active in getting things done, not to give up. The programme has shared a lot of information, which has been crucial to help me build this business.
There’s a saying in Somali “you could get a person to give you money but you won’t get a person that tells you something.’ TEF has provided a much needed fund but it has given me more than that, all the knowledge shared has been priceless.”
In the coming months, Hadi farming is opening up to training farmers to be more productive and to grow vegetable organically and as well a place for support and resource “somewhat a TEF-like foundation for Somaliland’s farmers”
Jama and his team can be reached via email: (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone no (+252 63 3555556), WhatsApp (+252 63 4823317)