Tag Archives: Food Shortage

Casual labour wages couldn’t sustain Abraham’s family

For a long time, Abraham Pote worked as a casual labourer on farms around his community in Vudee on the slopes of the Pare Mountains in Tanzania. The 45-year-old earned between Tsh1,500-Tsh2,000 a day for his efforts, which earnings he used to buy the basic necessities for his family. That, however, was not enough to cover all the requirements.

Desperate to supplement his income, the father of four ventured into brick-making, for whoever was in need of material to construct a house. This tedious work requires one to wake up at dawn in order to rack up a high number of bricks and earn a decent wage. For each brick made, Abraham earned Tsh20. He made up to 300 bricks a day, which earned him Tsh6,000.

Although this was an upgrade from the wages as a casual labourer, Abraham frequently had to bargain for food on credit from the shops. The manual labour just was not cutting it for him. He needed to be able to provide frequent meals for his wife and children. Agriculture seemed the logical answer to his problems. He figured, with this, he would provide enough food for his family and have some left over for sale.

While he owned plenty of land, he lacked the necessary skills and knowledge to make it productive. This didn’t stop him from trying. He bought seeds from any supplier ignorant of quality differences. Soon, he planted onions using traditional methods of farming and waited on the rains to bail him out. Needless to say, his harvest was nothing to write home about. He reaped 3 bags of onions from one acre of land.

Perhaps 2013 can be described as Abraham’s turning point. He was selected as one of Same-Abraham.1more than 60 Champion Farmers from Same, a semi arid district in the Kilimanjaro region.

With training from GWI EA, Abraham learnt techniques such as double digging, cover cropping, mixed cropping and bench terracing, which enabled him practice water and soil conservation and produce higher yields. Armed with these new skills, Abraham gave onions a second go and produced 20 bags worth Tsh2m (USD 1,205) from half an acre of land.

From these earnings, he was able to pay school fees for his children and also purchase a truck of manure for his farm. In addition, he paid for the connection of electricity to his house.

Today, Abraham is a role model to other farmers in the village. They visit his garden regularly for continual lessons and have adopted his methods.

Elizabeth Agiro
GWI EA, Uganda

Improved Access to Water for Agriculture can Lift Households out of Poverty

Interview with Tesahmu Haile, Champion Farmer in Dera

Our back yard cultivation carries us through the food shortage months. But the methods we use to water the plants and vegetables there are so laborious. What we need is support to improve our access to water  for Agriculture,” says Teshamu Haile, a farmer in Abesheme Got of Korata kebele, in Dera district, Ethiopia.

Teshamu Haile is a 45 year old single mother of six. Two of her children are living with her. The youngest, a 14 year old boy, has missed the opportunity to go to school because he has to stay at home and help his mother look after cattle and the crop farm.   Haile makes a living out of her farm land, one and half hectares of land, half of which is rented out to a farmer who plows the land and shares half of the harvest with her. The other half is located near the Gumera stream, and is plowed by her eldest son of 20 years.Teshamu_watering

She produces only once in a year and grows mostly Rough Pea and Chick Pea. This year she has planted rice for the first time, anticipating a higher market price.  Although she has land close to a surface water source, Haile has never irrigated it, because she doesn’t have the means to buy or rent motor pumps to lift water from the stream and take it to her farm. The rent for motor pumps is about 50 birr (2.7USD)  for one hour, she says.

In her backyard, she grows  Coffee and Gesho (a plant whose leaves are used in making local brew). Water for the backyard plants is laboriously transported on the back of a donkey from the nearby river, a task carried out by her youngest son or herself.

Women have problems to access water for irrigation. We don’t have the energy or skills to dig wells. We have to rely on labor intensive methods, transporting water on our backs or on the backs of donkeys to water our crops. We tried to dig a well in our backyard but we didn’t find any water. It is difficult when there is no well nearby. It is hard to transport water in sacks using donkeys,” says Haile.

Haile’s family experiences food shortage approximately for two months in a year, around July and August, as the crop harvested the previous year is fully consumed and the next harvest is only expected. The vegetables planted in her back garden help the household to bridge the gap during the food shortage months.

The project (GWI EA) should help us to access water we can use for agriculture. That’s our biggest need,” She says.

Bethel Terefe

GWI East Africa, Ethiopia