Backyard vegetable garden production for nutrition and income
W/ro* Asnakech Beyene lives in Shenkora Shesheng Kebele in a village called Warka in Jarso, Ethiopia. She is the mother of four children and after the passing of her husband two years ago she became the sole breadwinner in her household. In the past, she struggled to support her family through subsistence farming of maize, sorghum, millet and shallots on 1.2 acres of land.
Having joined a Farmer Field School in August 2011, Asnakech participated in a variety of training, the most recent of which included vegetable production. She learned the value of pursuing backyard vegetable garden production from a nutritional and income potential standpoint, and received Swiss chard, cabbage, onion, beetroot and tomato seeds to start her gardening activities.
Just three months after first planting her seeds, Asnakech began harvesting vegetables and selling surplus yields to neighbours and at local markets. August and September are challenging months for food production in Jarso but with her average weekly earnings of CAD $5.50, Asnakech was able to bridge the gap between grain harvesting seasons. The training Asnakech participated in on vegetable production included a nutrition component that highlighted the importance of consuming vegetables. Asnakech took these lessons to heart and is now preparing diverse and nutritious meals for her family, incorporating vegetables produced from her own garden into her cooking.
Access to vegetable seeds prior to Farmers First intervention was very limited and consumption of vegetables was viewed as a luxury. However, after the provision of nutrition training, these views are seen to be dissipating. One of Asnakech’s neighbours, W/ro Shage, has taken notice of the changes Asnakech has made in her life stating, “Asnakech is a strong female. She is often active and capable of applying new technologies and techniques introduced to her. The attractive vegetable production seen in her back yard is a good lesson for us. We are ready to follow in her steps to improve the diet of our children and our family livelihoods in general.”
Asnakech has started setting aside weekly savings from her vegetable sales that she plans to put towards purchasing sheep. Her goal is to begin sheep rearing to further supplement her income and support improved nutrition in her household.
*W/ro is a sign of respect for women in Ethiopia and is always put in front of the first name.