Somaliland economy mainly depends on livestock production, which has historically and culturally been the mainstay of livelihood for the majority of the people. Farming sector is predominantly subsistence through rain-fed production of cereals mainly sorghum and maize. Rain-fed farming is estimated for 90% and irrigation 10% of all agricultural activities in the country where the livestock production contributes 60% of the GDP and about 85% of foreign export earnings.
On March 3, 2014 Somaliland Government launched a campaign of awareness rising named “a week of food and water security campaign”. The policy behind this campaign was persuading the people to consume locally cultivated crops and by increasing production and productivity.
The idea was welcomed and appreciated at first place. As the Somaliland In Figures shows, in 2013 the Government allocated $11,537,249,755 for the productive sector. This budget was aimed at improving the capacity, skills and technical know-how of local farmers with respect to increase their production and productivity (crops, livestock and fisheries).
Unfortunately, up to date our government has not yet invested and subsidized small farmers on marketplace neither supported overhead costs of farmers like seeds, cultivation tractors, water pump machines and even pipelines.
Similarly, other big business entities do not want to invest in our small farmers. As the Somaliland In Figures published the quantity of food imported in 2013 for the first quarter were 105,579 tons and the second year quantity food imported of 2014 first quarter 108,339 tons and the first quarter of 2015 the country imported 102,675 tons. Additionally, the consumer price index on imported food has shown increase in first quarter of 2013 ($212,), 2014 ($226) and 2015 ($238). Therefore, the food price index rises each year and the production is almost zero.
It is a fact that our government allocated and spent almost half of the country’s budget in our Army Forces. In 2013, as the Somaliland figures shows, the Government allocated approx $ 275,748,151,762 for the Security Sector and it has the right to allocate them because they sacrifice their lives for the nation and they get harmed while they are responding to the external threats. As article 123 of Somaliland constitution states that “the national Armed Forces shall be responsible for protecting and defending the independence of the country. In addition, they shall, when needed, undertake duties in periods of state of emergency, in accordance with the Constitution.”
In my opinion, I see as an idle resource (the Army) for economic prospect which is only consumption pillar. In this case, I wonder why the government not utilized their army force for the production means (digging wells, constrution dams, gullies and farm extention); for sake of securing food needed by its citizens whom cannot afford to pay the higher price of imported food. Nevertheless, Army’s participantion and engagement of crop cultivation to increase production supply will help country’s economy growth and it will immediately increase food stock available in marketplace and consumers easily accessible to buy with reliable and stable price and it will utililize to feed country as whole. Then, this will be tangible outcome from production output. If the government exploits its army in production means, it will help country’s economic growth.
In my conclusion, today the geopolitics of the region of Horn of Africa is based on mutual interest and understanding. Hence Somaliland is not facing direct threat or hostility from neighboring countries or other countries. Therefore, I would like to suggest that the army force should participate in country’s production means is necessary and essential for economic growth.
Adam Ahmed Adam
Adam is an economist based in Erigavo, Sanaag region of Somaliland.