“We didn’t think it was possible.”
“I knew there had to be a better way…”
Just outside the hilly village of Chifisa, Ethiopia, Amarech looked out at her field of measly crops. Inconsistent rains and months of drought made farming increasingly difficult over the last few years. When it did rain, it poured; washing away the fertile red top soil into the river at the bottom of the valley. But Amarech still had hope… she knew there had to be a better way. She believed God would provide.
Amarech and her husband, Mattheos, inherited this land from her family several years ago. It was split among Amarech and her six siblings. This meant the plots of land were small… and therefore overworked. Using the farming methods taught them them over the generation, they could never provide enough food for their children. For seven months a year they ate one meal a day.
Then Amarech heard rumors of a new way of farming. It was being taught at the local church that had the potential to improve her yields. Without a second thought, she signed up.
With incredible tenacity, she absorbed every bit of new information she learned. Eager to try these new methods on her farm at home, she told Mattheos about her lessons. She explained the things she learned on moisture retention and soil fertility, and how to improve her yields through these techniques. But for Mattheos, he could only think that his wife had gone crazy! After all, they’ve been farming the same way for generations; how could they abandon their traditional methods? It seemed too risky.
But despite Mattheos’ skepticism, he decided that they could try the new techniques on a small plot of their land – as long as she took the lead. Amarech began transforming her traditional maize garden into a healthy and fertile 20 by 15 metre plot, growing both maize and beans as she had been taught. At the time of harvest, Mattheos was amazed and humbled by the bountiful crop his wife had grown with her new methods.
Since then, Mattheos was fully on board. Together they converted the majority of their farm to conservation agriculture, while saving a small traditional plot to compare with the past.
Today, their farm has expanded its produce from maize and beans to include cash crops of coffee, taro, and pumpkins. For the first time they are producing enough to eat and extend to neighbours. Storing their produce in PICS bags to sell during the off-season has allowed them to sell their harvests in the market for a source of income.
Looking back, they are overjoyed with the ways agriculture training has changed their lives; “Up until 3 years ago, we always experienced lean years and food shortages. Now, we can do it ourselves. We don’t have to beg. This has been done by our own energy. I am determined to do this for the rest of my life,” Mattheos says.
The couple can’t help but praise and thank God; Amarech says, “we came to understand that blessing is from God. In the past we didn’t get any results. But we had potential. We learned to care for creation and the land, and we enjoy God’s every blessing now”
Thanks to donors like you, Amarech and her family now have enough to eat year round.
But there are so many other families who continue to struggle to make ends meet to this day. You can help them.