Raising and feeding a family in Ethiopia is hard enough with both parents, but Mrs. Almaz Beyene, a widow with 7 children has been raising them on her own! As a single mother and widow, she cares for her 2 girls and 5 boys, of whom the oldest has left home, leaving 6 kids to feed.
Struck by climate change, Almaz’s home in the southern zone of Ethiopia faced many challenges to agriculture. Erratic rains, infertile soils, and drought were increasingly more common. As a small farmer herself, Almaz was aware of these challenges.
Attending the local church’s Conservation Agriculture training program, Almaz learned that despite poor farming conditions, she could rely on agriculture to feed her family and sell for income. Her motivation was high, as she realized she could be more productive on her small farm.
Almaz tested her corn crops with the new practices she learned, using some land for the conservation agriculture method, and other for the traditional method. She was amazed by the results of both the harvest and the increased soil quality in comparison to that of the conventional farming method.
“I plant on my CA plot mainly maize, taro and pumpkin. I mulch heavily as TDA told me so I conserve the moisture and suppress the weeds and it works…look at these 2 soils! My conventional maize crop is embarrassingly thin, but my CA crops have done really well, and even though people think my pumpkin is the ‘companion crop’ I will actually make more money from selling them than from the maize. We can eat it or sell pumpkins right through till next March as I have this field fenced and keep livestock out.”
It is easy for all to see how the technique has dramatically changed the conditions for Almaz and her family. She has been blessed with abundant crops to eat and sell, and has been recognized in her community – the government has awarded her for innovative farming! She is an inspiration to her community, and a testimony of hope and transformation.