"False bananas" truly improving livelihoods in Ethiopia
W/ro* Etewaye Shegeye, is a 28 year old widow and mother of two. She has a six year old boy and a 12 year old girl. Since her husband passed away two years ago, she has had to support her family as a small-scale farmer on the 1.2 acres of land she owns.
W/ro Etewaye produces sorghum (an important cereal crop that can be heat and drought resistant), Teff (a grain that is high in dietary fiber and iron), maize and beans. Unfortunately, she has not been able to produce enough to feed her family.
Recognizing her need to improve her family's livelihood she decided to join the Alem Farmer Field School group established at Shenkora Shesheng kebele, Warkas village, Ethiopia. She became part of a vegetable production group and learned about the benefits of diversifying her crops and the importance of maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet. She was also introduced to Ensete, a multi-use crop, rich in starch and high in fibre that is also used for cattle feed. Ensete, more commonly known as "False Banana", is recognized for its ability to survive drought and can be grown on a small plot of land with little maintenance. To strengthen and diversify her agricultural production, W/ro Etewaye received 20 false banana sucker seedlings and training on planting and maintenance of the crop.
W/ro Etewaye believes that “as a result of the lessons I received on how to improve production of vegetables and the importance of preparing nutritious meals for my family, my children and I are starting to eat a variety of foods. Although our village is suitable for production of vegetables like carrot, tomato, cabbage and Swiss chard I was not producing any. It was mainly due to the unavailability of vegetable seeds and their high prices. However, through the Farmer Field School, we were supported with seeds and the proper training. We now consume a better variety of food and my children look much healthier’’
*W/ro is a sign of respect for women in Ethiopia and is always put in front of the first name.