Providing for her family: Shewaye's story
In 2009, a Five-Year, Farmers First: Community Led Food Security Project was started in Were Jarso district, North Shewa Zone of Oromia Regional State, Ethiopia. The goal of the project was to contribute to year-round household food security for vulnerable rural communities, with an emphasis on women, children under 5 years of age and HIV affected households.
With the support of the project, 43 Farmer Field School groups, representing 1,135 community members, were established within the last two years; 56% of the membership is female. Unfortunately, agricultural extension services are rarely available to women in Were Jarso district, as is common across the country. Women, typically, have minimal technical and agricultural knowledge which is necessary in order to improve their farms. With this in mind, the project has encouraged Farmer Field School groups to embrace the concerns expressed by both men and women in the communities.
W/ro* Shewaye is a 37 year old widow and mother of four. She joined the Odda Farmer Field School group after her husband died because she had to provide for her family. W/ro Shewaye received improved wheat seed and was instructed on how to prepare compost, which is a cost effective way to improve the soil on her farm. After receiving training on the agronomic practices of the improved wheat seeds, she was able to farm enough wheat for her household consumption, with additional wheat being sold at market.
“With the total output produced, I was able to construct a new house for my family!” exclaimed w/ro Shewaye. “This has never been the case for any of the farmers in my village,” w/ro Shewaye added.
Farmer Field School groups gathered on demonstration sites throughout the growing season to experiment with the planting, maintenance and harvesting of different crops. They were provided with improved seeds of wheat, maize, potato, chickpea, haricot bean, as well as post-harvest technology. Accordingly, 1,135 Farmer Field School members were supported with these agricultural inputs and trained on improved agronomic practices.
They also discussed special topics including, Harmful Traditional Practices, Gender Based Violence (GBV), HIV/Aids and proper nutrition. Members of the groups were selected to undergo in-depth training on advanced technical, agricultural skills and knowledge so that they may continue to pass this information on to farmers throughout their communities.
The Farmers First: Community Led Food Security Project has helped women and men like w/ro Shewaye to achieve a sustainable livelihoods and enhance opportunities to provide a healthy and safe lifestyle for their families.
*W/ro is a sign of respect for women in Ethiopia and is always put in front of the first name.