Growing nutritious food and raising healthy children in Ethiopia
In Ethiopia, small-scale subsistence farming is a common practice, particularly in rural areas. Unfortunately, many farmers struggle to produce enough food to support their families. Such was the case with w/ro Mereta Girma, a 35 year-old mother of five, living in Tulu-Biftu Village, Abo Yayebena Kebele, Ethiopia.
W/ro Mereta owns 1.2 acres of land on which she grows teff, wheat and beans. The yields from her harvests were not providing her family with enough food to last through the year and Mereta struggled to find additional sources of income to support her family. As well, the crops she produced to feed her family lacked the essential vitamins and minerals to help her children grow up healthy and strong.
“Injera with spicy wet**, sometimes with roasted beans, were the only major source of food I served to my family. We considered vegetables and meat from animals as secondary food items, less important for consumption. As a result, many people suffered from malnutrition,” explained w/ro Mereta.
This year, w/ro Mereta decided to join the Gemta Gudina Farmers Field School group. She had seen group members and their families benefiting from the knowledge and skills gained through their participation in training offered through the Farmer Field School. The group organized to work together to improve agricultural production and productivity through participatory and mutual learning initiatives undertaken in the field. W/ro Mereta saw an opportunity to improve the health and status of her family.
W/ro Mereta and her group took part in training on nutrition, which focussed on improved feeding practices and introduced a variety of methods for preparing food. After attending this training, members of the Farmer Field School have started to make positive changes to their diets.
Since participating in the training on nutrition, w/ro Mereta began growing vegetables on her plot. She now prepares and serves them as an additional nutritious food variety in her family’s meals. Describing the impact improved nutrition has had on her family, w/ro Mereta said, “I feel strong and happy because my family now eats good and healthy food. There is no doubt good nutrition can build a healthy family.”
When asked about her participation in the Farmer Field School and her future plans, she explained, “I will continue to produce vegetables for home consumption as well as for selling in the market. Thanks to our training, we have learned that a variety of food items are required for a healthy and active life, especially for women and children.”
Currently, w/ro Mereta is serving as a model farmer in her village to help teach members of her community about healthy eating habits and share her knowledge on sustainable farming practices.
*W/ro is a sign of respect for women in Ethiopia and is always put in front of the first name.
**Wet is a traditional stew commonly prepared in Ethiopia.