Timely Planting:

An Important Resilience Strategy For Minimizing Yield Loss Due To Drought

Jilaal daboo is an indigenous Somali farming practice of planting the field before the Gu-season rains begin. Some farmers realize the importance of planting early – before the rainy season begins – in order to maximize crop production by taking advantage of all the rainfall during the growing season. Typically the rainy season in Somalia is shorter than the growing season for maize and sorghum, meaning these crops face the likelihood of experiencing drought stress during the grain-fill portion of the crops’ development.
Female farmer in Awdhegle weeding her young Maize field

Timely  planting  is  an important  management strategy  for  minimizing yield  loss  due  to  drought.

The Somali farmers who practice jilaal daboo know there is a risk that in some years the early rains are not sufficient to adequately wet the soil profile, thus jeopardizing the survival of the young seedling. In those years, the seedlings in the early-seeded fields can die if supplemental irrigation water is not available. If the seedlings do die the farmer has the option of replanting the field. In other years, however, the early-planted fields provide the best yields compared to later-planted fields. In irrigated areas, later-planted fields generally require more irrigation water, which increases the cost of production. Because of the risk associated with jilaal daboo, dryland farmers realize the importance of ‘spreading their risk’ by planting only a portion of their total land jilaal daboo.
Most fields should be planted earlier rather than later during the rainy season. This applies to dryland farming as well as irrigated farming. Compared to many other parts of the world, Somalia has limited water amounts for growing crops. Thus, Somali farmers need to use the water resources they have very wisely.  In the future, Somali farmers will need to use irrigation water, as well as water from rains, much more efficiently and effectively than they do today.
Local extention workers experimenting at the SATG – ABIC (Agribusiness Incubation Center)

In the Dery season of 2016-2017, researchers working at the SATG Agri-Business Incubation Centre near Afgoi learned an important lesson about the importance of timely planting. Some of the maize research trials were planted early (in October) and those plants survived and had somewhat respectable yields. Other research trials were planted later (in December) with the thought that they would be irrigated with water from the Shabelle River if the plants needed more water. However, the sparse rains in almost the entire Shabelle River basin, plus up-river water usage, caused the river to be dry by mid-January. Thus, there was no irrigation water available and the maize in the later-planted trials shriveled up and died.

Timely planting is just one of the good agricultural practices (GAP) promoted by SATG.

Farmers in Somalia generally know when the Gu season rains begin in their area. If that date is past, than jilaal daboo should definitely be considered.  Other GAP include improved soil fertility, planting quality seed, timely weeding.