Amarech clung to hope and determination,
knowing there had to be a way to improve her crops in the hilly village of Chifisa, Ethiopia. Despite poor soil due to over-tillage and 9 months of drought, she believed that her farm could be a success.
Splitting her inherited land amongst her seven children meant that her plot of soil was both limited and overworked. With no farming techniques other than the ones passed down from generation to generation, and a changing climate making planting season increasingly difficult, starvation was common for her family. Seven months a year were marked with hunger, with only one meal a day to sustain them.
Hearing about Conservation Agriculture changed everything.
Patient in Faith
Without a second thought, Amarech signed herself up and began attending classes. With incredible tenacity, she absorbed every bit of new information she learned, eager to try it out on her farm at home. She came home telling her husband, Mattheos, about her lessons on moisture retention and soil fertility, with a clear understanding of how to improve her yields through these techniques. But for Mattheos, he could only think that his wife had gone mad! After all, they’ve been farming the same way for generations; how could they abandon their traditional methods?
But she persisted. She convinced him to start a small trial plot, and she would do all the work. Reluctantly, Mattheos agreed.
She 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 Amarech had grown with her new methods.
The Power of Savings
During this time, Amarech also joined a Self-help Group that started at her church. “The name of this group is ‘love’ – because without love, we are helpless.” The group meet weekly to save small amounts of money. Eventually, it provided Amaerch with a way to take small loans to buy farming equipment and start a coffee trading business.
Thanks to Conversation agriculture and the savings groups, Amarech’s and Matheo’s lives have transformed!
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.
Their success has led them to establish an example farm next to the church to teach others these new farming techniques. The couple can’t help but praise and thank God.
“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.”