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A Return to the Glory Days

Urman Nekere and her family faced challenges of eroded, unproductive land leading to chronic hunger.

Through Conservation Agriculture, Urman and her family have found astounding results

Coming from a long line of farmers, Urman Nekere and her husband have a special love for the land. They have always been farmers and fondly remember the stories their grandparents’ used to tell them of the land. But farming on the slopey hills of Southern Ethiopia has been increasingly difficult since her grandparents’ day.

Although farming on a hill has never been easy, after generations of traditional farming methods, the land has been over-tilled. It is sandy, dry, and has eroded over time by strong winds. Urman reports, “our land has totally lost its fertility and become unproductive.”

So, what does one do when the only livelihood they’ve ever known ceases to be usable? For Urman and her family of 7, external handouts were the only available option. Sadly, this is the case for the majority of families in Zala, Ethiopia, as they continue to battle chronic hunger in the region.

To change the situation and support the community of Zala, the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (our local partners) began a project promoting a new type of farming, Conservation Agriculture (CA), aims to improve soil fertility and increase crop yield through minimum tillage, soil coverage and mulching, and regular crop rotations.

Urman and her husband knew they had to make a change, so after a lengthy discussion, they participated in the training and got started. At first, they were nervous to dedicate much of their land to CA, afraid they’d lose even the small amount they’d been able to harvest in the past. But with some persuasion from the church staff, they settled on a 50/50 split, so they could easily measure the difference at harvest time.

The results were amazing.

At the end of the first season using Conservation Agriculture, Urman and her husband harvested more maize than ever before – and it was tastier too! They were so encouraged by the results that they decided together to increase the CA plot size for the next harvest, and found even better results to follow.

Urman began to see other improvements. The soil quality had started to improve, therefore, the time and labour that goes into weeding was reduced, leaving more time and energy to spend with her 5 children. The family has begun intercropping to further increase soil fertility, and is now able to grow enough to satisfy their stomachs with leftovers to sell at the market.

Urman and her family have a promising future because of your generosity. Your gifts are changing the Zala community for the better. Urman shares, “In general, my food availability is improving from previous years, thanks to God. In the future, I will change all my land to conservation agriculture.”

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