To many, the mention of Somalia conjures pictures of a blend of arid landscape with sparsely distributed settlements of nomadic herdsmen and their mix of livestock. Well, that may be debated upon but is definitely not true about Arapsiyo, home to Arapsiyo Farmers Training Center (AFTC). Arapsiyo farmers training center is located in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Established in 1999, the center is a small haven for farmers who know it rather as the only institution offering training to local farmers in Somaliland.
When ADRA's Management visited the center in August 2013, the institution's management were elated. The institution had received immense support from ADRA over the years including the installation of a demonstration windmill at the institution to power the pumping of water for irrigation ten years earlier. Before the windmill's installation, AFTC was used to frequent breakdowns which coupled with the lack of expertise pushed the running costs very high with the trainees bearing the brunt.
In April of that year, a team from ADRA visited AFTC and after consulting with the management on the installation of a demonstration windmill, the road to good times was laid. Farmers at the center offered to contribute labour, cement and water and with ADRA's contribution, the windmill was up and running. In a matter of weeks, fortunes would change for the better. The generator that once was the sole source of energy to power water pumping would be shelved for the next three months when winds were at their peak. When the seasons change and wind strengths reduce, the generator complements the windmill providing power between 20% to 50% of the time during the low season. But even at such times, AFTC still manages profits as fuel costs are reduced.
Ten years later, the farmers are still reaping rewards of adopting clean technologies. “With the windmill at our advantage, we can now invest returns into the development of the farm as well as in acquiring farm inputs, a plan that has reaped hefty returns for our members” said an enthusiastic Mohamed Ibrahim, the Institution's Chairman. “AFTC no longer worries about the frequent generator breakdowns as ADRA trained staff at the center on generator and windmill operation and maintenance” he adds as he presents some of the vegetables grown under irrigation.
With the demonstration unit running well for the past 10 years, AFTC has been raising awareness on the use of wind power among farmers in the whole of Somaliland as well as introduced the use of renewable energy stoves for the center's food processing training unit for women. “This simple technology has greatly changed the lives of many farmers in Somaliland, we are grateful”, concludes Ibrahim, gleefully.