“This is the first time we are seeing fields like this. We gave up growing wheat a long time ago because it never survived the harsh conditions. But now we are seeing in a concrete way what can be done with the right seed and the right farming technique.”
Almaz Kebede, 44, is a mother of 6, living in the rural community of Jidda, about 135 km north of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.
In her region, farmers only used to plant oats, even though the yield is very low, because oats were the only culture that survived the floods and waterlogged soils.
“Now we don’t only work hard but we work smart.” says Almaz with a smile.
50 farmers were selected by their peers to be in an Oxfam pilot project, to use new seeds and new techniques. Almaz was one of them. “At the beginning of the project we made a commitment to support others and sell the new seed variety at an affordable price to other farmers at the end of the season. And we are ready to honour that promise. I even have a picture of my group on my wall as a reminder! We work together and learn together. We will cover most of our land with the new improved seed!”
After only a year, the project has given amazing results, more than doubling yields. Some farmers are planning to expand, others to buy milk cows, or “simply” improving their living conditions for them and their kids. Gezachew, another farmer, is excited about the idea of being able to buy things for his home: “The first item on my list is to buy a bed and a comforter”, he says smiling.
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