December 13, 2014


After Barren Years in Somalia, Signs of Growth by the Bunch (ISMA'IL KUSHKUSH, DEC. 13, 2014, NY Times)

After years of warfare that decimated an industry that was once the largest in Africa, the banana is making a tentative comeback in Somalia. Farms are stepping up production and eyeing overseas markets that have been dormant for years.

"Last April we exported to Saudi Arabia for the first time in 23 years," said Kamal Haji Nasir, 30, whose father, owns this plantation in Afgooye, a town on the Shebelle River, about 45 minutes' drive from Mogadishu. "We are excited and hopeful."

For more than two decades, Somalia was the epitome of a failed state -- a country rife with war, anarchy, famine, piracy and terrorism. Many of those problems persist -- there has been a recent surge in attacks by Shabab militants, the government is riven with infighting and the United Nations has been warning of a growing risk of famine -- but the country has nonetheless made some progress in the past few years.

Somalia elected a new president and adopted a constitution in 2012, bringing some stability, and attracting pledges of aid from international donors. Somali pirates, who once threatened international shipping in the Indian Ocean, have largely been contained and the Shabab have lost their grip over many towns.

"By any measure, Somalia today is in a better situation than it has been for the past 23 years," said Nicholas Kay, the United Nations' special representative for Somalia.

That stability has allowed farmers like Mr. Nasir, who studied agriculture at Mogadishu University, to return to a business that has been in his family for four generations.

Posted by at December 13, 2014 6:28 PM

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