Logo Triangle génération humanitaire




Development and promotion of a socially and ecologically
friendly agriculture on the Island of Socotra


Food security and livelihood

Food security and livelihood


Logo AFD

From 01/2009 to 12/2011



715 000

It is true that the Island of Socotra offers climatic and natural conditions totally suitable to this type of project, however, the advanced protection of this rich and fragile environment imposes a strict control on farming practices, and, as it is the case in the whole Republic of Yemen, an advanced mastering of the means of irrigation.

Expected results:

The island of Socotra is located 400 km south of the Yemenite coast. Its climate is characterised by weak and fairly unpredictable rainfall. A season of violent winds, lasting from June to September, provokes the departure of many islanders for a period of two to three months. The activities of TGH also slow down during that time. The majority of the island’s 55 000 inhabitants live in the coastal plains and around the capital, Hadibo. Protection of Socotra’s biodiversity, highly specific and particularly rich, is one of the priorities of the Yemenite government and must be central to all local development actions.

Triangle G H started implementing diversified projects in Socotra in August 2000. Since then, it has witnessed the speed of the island’s opening towards the rest of the world. Over recent years, tourism has grown at phenomenal rate, and various infrastructures, especially roads, have markedly improved.

Facing the necessity to raise the level of food safety on the island, domestic production being insufficient (family breeding of goats or sheep, a few date palm enterprises), the Yemenite authorities have favoured large-scale projects such as massive irrigation works, often to the detriment of village or domestic production projects. In the context of Socotra, where few inhabitants still work as farmers, TGH, with support from AFD, has decided to develop collective market gardening projects run by women-volunteers living in the same village.

To implement sustainable gardens with the women involved, the programme unrolls in the following way:

  1. Identification of potential sites with the communities interested in the project

    TGH approaches the communities through their traditional chiefs. In this way, each garden is anchored locally and it is possible to make contact with the community’s women, an aspect that isn’t always easy complicated in Yemen. Once the land has been identified and its potential confirmed (soil quality, location in relation to houses, irrigation possibilities), the women who wish to participate in the project attend the first information meetings.

  2. Organisation of irrigation, assisted by the villagers

    Having evaluated the garden’s irrigation opportunities, Triangle’s technical teams install the right structure to water future crops. In Socotra, water is rare, so the aim is to either to dig a well and reach underground water, or to build a small dam upstream of the nearest river. By using gravity, water from the dam is then fed into a large-capacity reservoir in the garden itself. This kind of technical planning is covered by Triangle’s technical team, with strong input from the beneficiaries. A few local technicians are then trained to maintain the straightforward systems and guided through the works phase by TGH.

  3. Land preparation, seed distribution and technical training for the women involved

    During a number of successive meetings with the women involved, TGH’s agronomists (organic farming experts) teach land preparation techniques. Each woman prepares and cultivates her own garden plot. Naturally, the women are supplied with seeds, predominantly from local cultures, before cultivating their plants according to the advice and meteorological recommendations made during training.

  4. Guidance over two or three agricultural seasons

    All through the programme, TGH visits every garden to observe the plots’ development. As well as helping the women solve any problems they have with their crops, future training requirements can also be identified and organised according to the women’s wishes. This training/guidance method operates through regular visits to each garden and draws on the Triangle’s technical expertise; indeed, the agronomists test the variety of seeds and collect information to define appropriate fertilizers and natural anti-parasites that can be made locally by the women, at very lost cost.

  5. Participative implementation of solutions to sell excess produce

    Throughout the programme, TGH encourages family usage of the yield so that both adults and children can benefit from increased consumption of fresh vegetables. As the women generally produce more than is needed by their families, they share their crops around them and sometimes sell part of it if the market is not too far away. The remoteness of certain sites reduces significant commercial profit, but others, namely the Shok garden near Hadibo, supply the main market. The women have imposed their presence on the market over time and some restaurants even include Socotra-grown vegetables in their menus (up to now they had to import them at a higher rate).
    Regardless of the commercial opportunities of each garden, TGH assists each woman gardener and helps her find appropriate solutions to her needs.