Poverty rates are high in the Benishangul Gumuz region of Ethiopia. The average household earns just $90 a year.
And as farming families make the majority of their money from agriculture, the demand for land means that farmers cut down trees in the region’s dense forest to make space for their own crops and livestock.
Forests cover 60% of the region, but this percentage is falling fast. Farm Africa is working to help local communities build sustainable enterprises to profit from the forests’ resources, so that not only can farmers earn more, but they’ll also have an incentive to conserve the trees.
Forest products such as honey and incense are an important and potentially profitable source of income for farmers. Incense is one of Ethiopia’s biggest exports, but has traditionally been seen as the preserve of the poor – but now that it’s become clear how profitable incense is, these attitudes are changing.
Farm Africa works with forest management committees, which empower farmers to turn products like honey and incense into sustainable enterprises. We set up and support committees, helping them to link farmers with better markets, and access the finance they need for their businesses to develop. By developing enterprises which promote sustainable management of the forest environment, Farm Africa is helping farmers to ensure their incomes are increasing and their environment is protected.
This project will help over 6,800 people in Benishangul Gumuz to increase their incomes. We’re also focusing particularly on the role of women, helping them to develop the literacy, numeracy and business skills they need to build their own enterprises and have a greater voice in the community.
With funding from Comic Relief, we’re working with local NGOs (including the Natural Gum Processing and Marketing Enterprise, the Tokuma Limited Farmers Multipurpose Union, the Assosa Environmental Protection Association and the Organisation for Women in Self Employment) and private sector partners, as well as cooperatives established under other Farm Africa projects.