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Access to water improves fruit and vegetable production in Ethiopia

18 August 2017

Access to water improves fruit and vegetable production in Ethiopia

Increased access to water has enabled farmers in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables at higher profit margins and with higher nutritional value.

Aregawi Gebremeskel is one of the farmers that has benefited from this initiative. At just 22, he has achieved a lot in his short farming career. As he looks over his land, he seems optimistic about his future and proud of the decisions he has made to get where he is today.

Aregawi hasn’t always felt this way: he faced a challenging childhood. “My father and my mother are farmers but they are often sick and too old to work and feed a family of eight people. There was little to eat and going to [secondary] school was unthinkable for me”, he remembers.

After dropping out of school, Aregawi worked as a day labourer, moving from place to place working on large farms. This provided him with a stable income, but his decision to leave his family in poverty always haunted him. Farm Africa - Farmer in Tigray, Ethiopia

Upon his return to the family farm, Aregawi set about improving the productivity of the smallholding by manually delivering water to his farm from a local pond. This method proved too time-consuming and labour-intensive, with Aregawi seeing little return from his efforts.

Aregawi’s life was transformed when he, and ten others, received a motorised water lifting pump and accompanying training on how to use the new kit effectively and how to grow vegetables. “Things changed dramatically when Farm Africa provided a water lifting motor pipe for us ten farmers”, he says. 

“I then started growing varieties of vegetables that include garlic, onions, tomatoes, cabbages, spinach, beetroot, carrots and peppercorns. I have sold vegetables for over ETB 10,000 in one production year alone and still have vegetables worth ETB 15,000 at home.”

We now live a better life because we had access to a motor pump, training and follow-up of Farm Africa community facilitators. That really made a big difference in our lives.

Aregawi Gebremeskel

Small-scale irrigation facilitated Aregawi’s step-change from subsistence agriculture to profitable farming. With his brother now back in school and the family eating three meals a day; this transition has allowed Aregawi to lift himself and his family out of poverty.

“I’m very much encouraged to continue growing vegetables and benefit myself and help my family. Many other people have been benefiting from the motor pump provision but people here see me as a model because I work very hard. I made the right decision not to marry before I could fend for myself, but it seems the time is coming for me to be someone and of course get married.”

This initiative was part of Farm Africa’s Sustainable Agriculture for Improved Food Security project, which was funded by Irish Aid and the UK Department for International Development.