IL MONDO PROFILES SOMALFRUIT
February 27, 1995
is a small Italian business that was recently in the
news when an Italian television journalist was killed in
an ambush in Somalia; the company had organised
transport with an armed guard for him and a colleague.
The company's owner is
Bianca De Nadai,
daughter of the founder, born in Addis Ababa in 1941 and
now living in Padua. She also owns a string of other
very small firms, some of them jointly with her husband
Roberto Conti. The parent company seems to be De Nadai,
set up in 1977 at Romans d'Isonzo in Gorizia province.
It has a staff of only four people, two of whom are
members of De Nadai's family. Its foreign operations,
Somalfruit, are headed by Evergreen Trade, formed in
1992 in Padua,
with authorised (but apparently not paid up) capital of
L99m, and a staff of three, one of them a member of the
owner's family. Its stated objects are promotion,
consultancy, marketing, wholesaling and brokering of
agricultural products of all kinds and from any source,
in Italy and abroad. In March 1993 it expanded its
activities to include wholesaling of fruit and
Tico Tropical Isles Company, formed in 1991,
is registered at the same address in Padua and has
practically the same objects and, again, authorised
capital of L99m. It is different from the other two
companies in that its board of directors includes two
foreigners: Stuart Anderson of New Zealand, and Kevin
Bragg of the USA.
While Bianca De Nadai is involved in the agricultural
produce business, her husband is engaged in the property
and transport sectors. As well as being a shareholder in
some of his wife's companies, he is either chairman of
or a shareholder in at least another five firms, one of
them a Florence- based import-export company, Camar,
which does business with Somalia.
Somalfruit operates a fleet of about 30 ships. It is 51%
owned by the children and grandchildren of its founder,
with the other 49% divided between a group of Italian
business colleagues and a number of Somali operators.
Management of the company's affairs in Somalia is in the
An American goes fishing
The Indian Ocean Newsletter
June 25, 2005
who was American ambassador to Somalia a decade ago and
is now associate editor of the Post-Gazette of Pittsburg
(Pennsylvania), met one of his old acquaintances in the
United States recently. This was
Mehrdad Radseresht, the son of an Iranian diplomat who
took American nationality
and in the mid 1990s had been the representative for
Dole Foods for the Middle East.
The two men met in Somalia
where Radseresht was trying to create the company
Sombana (a subsidiary of Dole),
in head on competition, sometimes violent, with its
rival Somalfruit.In a recent article in Post-Gazette,
Simpson retraces this common past as well as his
friend's more recent attempt to get into the fishing
industry in Somalia. This was through a company having
fishing licences attributed by the government of
Puntland and employing 80 to 100 fishers.
Radseresht's new strategy is to sell fish and bananas to
the American forces based in Djibouti, where he has a
concession for the fishing port.
He has also had the idea of afterwards expanding this
trade to other American contingents based in the region,
whether Kuwait or Iraq.In Djibouti,
Mehrdad Radseresht is the chairman of the Djibouti
Maritime Management and Investment Company (DMMI)
which obtained the concession for the new fishing port
from President Isma�l Omar Guelleh (ION 1080). Within
the DMMI, he is in partnership with an MP from the
Djibouti governing party, Youssouf Moussa Dawaleh. Last
year, DMMI hired the Frenchman Herv� Prat (ION 1088) as
director to run the Djibouti fishing port.
� Copyrights 2005 Indigo Publications All Rights
Murder, slavery, beatings, theft in
June 23, 1995
June 23 (AFP) - Farmers in Somalia's fertile lower
Shabelle region came forward Thursday to tell stories of
an area ostensibly at peace but where they say
militiamen beat, murder, enslave, tax, steal and
The farmers added that they ended up thanking the gunmen
-- loyal to south Mogadishu warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid
-- for not killing them.
Among the stories: one 29-year-old man killed because he
ate two bananas as he worked as a virtual slave on a
plantation, and a woman who gave birth after being
forced to work all day.
The slave-workers are fed a meagre diet of beans boiled
in unsalted water, the farmers say, but are forbidden to
eat the fruit they pick.
Ironically, life was actually easier for them in the
days of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, overthrown in
January 1991, since harvesters then could eat as many
bananas as they wanted so long as they did not take any
The farmers say that two big banana companies,
a subsidiary of the US-based Dole corporation, and
which has Italian backing, use militiamen aboard dozens
of "technicals" -- pickup trucks with heavy weapons
mounted -- to force men, women and children to work on
the plantations for more than 11 hours a day for little
or no pay.
Roadside sellers said they would give terrified nods of
appreciation as passing militiamen helped themselves to
cigarettes, coconuts, and fruit juices.
Sombana head Ahmed Duale Gelle "Haaf" denied the charge.
"We haven't seen human rights violations in the region
so far," he said.
Somalfruit refused to comment.
Local faction leader Ibrahim Mohamed Dirie said at least
10 farmers had been killed after resisting militiamen
who tried to take over their farms.
He accused the companies of instigating the farm take-overs,
and called for a withdrawal of all militias and a
boycott of exported bananas.
The farmers say some militias are employed directly by
the companies, and that the others are loyal to General
Aidid, who they say is supported financially by both
Sombana and Somalfruit despite his ouster as chairman of
the Somali National Alliance on June 11 by his
financier-turned-rival, Osman Hassan Ali "Atto."
Aidid's supporters elected the general as Somalia's
"interim president" on June 15, a move unrecognised by
his rivals or any government.
During the banana harvest, the farmers said, militiamen
pay 50 Somali cents for each bunch of bananas. This
means a strong man able to carry 400 bunches in a day
can earn the equivalent of three US cents, enough to buy
100 grams (3.5 ounces) of bread.
But the militiamen sell untreated river water for
drinking at 500 shillings per jerry can, the equivalent
of nine US cents, and charge 150,000 shillings for
enough canal water to irrigate a small farm once.
On top of that, the farmers say, they levy a "regional
Moallim Mudey Hassan, 45, owner of a 100-hectare
(250-acre) farm testified: "First I was refused water
from the irrigation canal, then the militias said they
would share my farm and give me protection. Finally, six
technicals surrounded my farm, and I was ordered to
leave. I obeyed the gunmen to save my life."
Hussein Osman Moallim, 55, said 13 Somalfruit gunmen
told him they had helped liberate the area during the
overthrow of Siad Barre, and that they therefore
deserved his 400-hectare (1,000-acre) farm.
"I tried to negotiate, and offered them half the farm,
but they rejected the deal. After I heard that one of my
colleagues had been killed in his home after trying to
resist orders to abandon his farm, I fled to north
Mogadishu (under the control of Aidid rival Ali Mahdi
Abdurahmin Malaq Abdi, 60, was abducted from a bus on
his way to Mogadishu and taken with 15 others to work on
a farm taken over by militiamen.
He said he was too weak to work in the fields, so was
put on garbage collection while the others were forced
to clear a canal.
"We worked all day long without payment, but we finally
thanked them for allowing us to leave unhurt," he said.
A university graduate who gave his name only as Dr. Musa
said he saw a 32-year-old man "tortured, then shot in
the head and thrown on a garbage pile, where his body
was set ablaze."
Musa, showing his cracked hands, said he did receive
payment for his forced labour -- 14 bananas.
� (Copyright 1995)
Somali companies go to war over banana
February 17, 1995
Somalia, Feb 17 (Reuter) - In a bloody feud that gives
new meaning to the term
two private companies with their own armies are fighting
for control over Somalia's banana exports to Europe.
Up to eight people, including an Italian journalist,
have been killed this month as a result of the struggle
which pits the Italian-backed Somalfruit company against
Sombana, agents for the U.S. fruit giant Dole.
Business in the Horn of Africa state has revived since
United Nations troops stormed ashore in 1993 to end
famine and persuade warring clan militias to establish a
They failed to do that and the U.N. is withdrawing this
month under the protection of U.S. and Italian forces.
U.N. special envoy Victor Gbeho said this week the
banana feud: "gives an indication of what will happen in
the future if you have no government".
Carloads of Somali militiamen wielding AK-47s and
rocket- propelled grenades patrol the banana plantations
in Shalambot, about 90 km (55 miles) south of the
capital Mogadishu along a bandit-infested dirt road.
"We are not people of war. We came here to start a
business," said Asale Muhammad Abdi, an official of
Ahmed Duale Haf of Sombana, sitting in his office as
teams of gunmen lounged in the shade, said the same: "We
are ready to do business but we are not ready to shoot."
Reporters saw a convoy of empty Somalfruit trucks
driving to Shalambot protected by "technicals", vehicles
mounted with machine guns and in one case, by a 37 mm
Somalia's banana industry dates back to Italian colonial
rule, when fascist dictator Benito Mussolini encouraged
the first plantations.
After independence, military ruler Mohamed Siad Barre
gave a monopoly to Somalfruit which was jointly-owned by
Italian interests, the state and local farmers. But
militias which overthrew Siad Barre in 1991 turned the
plantations into battlefields and the industry all but
As Somalfruit struggled, Sombana began exporting from
Mogadishu's Indian Ocean port last year, backed by Dole.
Dole's presence in Somalia was publicised by the U.S.
ambassador Daniel Simpson and the U.N. Operation in
"Competition is good. It's democratic," said Gbeho in
defence of this. "But then both companies sought
political bases -- and that's why the problems started."
The Somalis in control of both companies have close
ethnic links with Aideed's militia, but the Somali
leader's efforts to get them to agree to share the
monthly export of up to 200,000 12.5 kg (27.50 lb)
cartons failed to resolve the quarrel.
Mohamoud Dirshe, a senior official in Somalfruit, said
that on February 1 Sombana technicals prevented his
company from getting 30 truckloads of bananas into
The next day, the convoy tried to enter the port again
and a gunfight broke out. Witnesses said two militiamen
and a woman bystander were shot dead.
That night, two mortar bombs slammed into the port area.
Dirshe claims they were aimed at the Somalfruit ship.
Ahmed Duale, the chief of Sombana, denies this and says
his rivals were attacked by truckers over a contract
On February 9, Somalfruit cars were ambushed near the
U.N.-controlled airport in Mogadishu by "technicals".
Marcello Palmisano, a cameraman for Italian RAI
television, was shot dead while his female colleague
escaped. The team was apparently attempting to cover the
story of the "banana war".
A senior Somalfruit official and three others were also
killed in the attack. Duale denies his company was
Both companies say they have invested large amounts of
money in the banana planatations, providing fertilisers
The prize in the dispute is access to the European
market under the Lome Convention trade agreement which
ensures Somalia a quota for its bananas. Water melons
and grape fruit are also exported to Europe and the
� 1995 Reuters Limited
Aidid paid by banana firms to capture
Kismayo port: rival
MOGADISHU, Aug 21 (AFP) - Banana exporters have paid
Somali warlord Hussein Mohamed Aidid 100,000 dollars to
capture a strategic port in a bid to resume exports of
the lucrative cash crop, a rival faction leader charged
Major-General Aden Abdullahi Nur Babyow, nominal
chairman of the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM) faction,
told journalists that militiamen from Aidid's United
Somali Congress/Somali National Alliance (USC/SNA)
faction were planning to attack Kismayo, 500 kilometres
(312 miles) south of the Somali capital.
Dozens of heavily armed wagons (technicals) belonging
Aidid's USC/SNA were heading toward Kismayo and the
Lower Jubba region, he said.
Gabyow accused two Somali banana exporting companies --
Sombana and Somali Fruit -- of financing the impending
attack by giving Aidid's faction 100,000 dollars.
SPM deputy chairman General Mohamed Said Hirsi Morgan ,
whose SPM faction controls the southern Somali port, to
the impending attack on the port city.
The former defence minister under dictator Mohamed Siad
Barre, who was ousted in January 1991, said Aidid aimed
to capture the port to allow a resumption of banana
The operation was being mounted to compensate for the
closure of Mogadishu airport last October by the Somali
Salvation Alliance (SSA) faction of Ali Mahdi Mohamed
and the USC/SNA faction loyal to Osman Hassan Ali Atto,
Aidid's former financier-turned bitter political rivals.
Gayow said the banana exporting companies wanted the
port to be captured by Aidid's militiamen before
The SPM chairman also accused the American Dole Company
and Italian firms of supporting the illegal export of
bananas harvested from farms confiscated from the
unarmed farmers in Jubba Valley.
Jubba Valley, one of the war-torn country's richest
areas for agriculture, livestock and fish industries,
has been the scene of many battles since the overthrow
� (Copyright 1996)