Small farm, big dreams

Ethiopia

Emiyas has been a farmer all of his life. As a child he would help his father on the family farm. Now married with five children, he has his own plot of land where he works throughout the year. But for all the hard work he’s putting in, he’s struggling to earn an income and provide enough food to feed his family.

For many years, Emiyas relied on traditional farming methods. But they are becoming more and more ineffective in the face of climate change. Small-scale farmers like Emiyas are suffering from this growing threat.

In Ethiopia, where he lives, 80 per cent of the population work in agriculture and are dependent on their farm to make ends meet. When crops fail, farmers often have nothing to fall back on. When people lose the ability to feed themselves, it puts their long-term future at risk.

Food for thought
‘I used to grow maize and vegetables and pray for enough rain.… If we were lucky, the harvest was good enough to feed us,’ Emiyas says. ‘During the hard months, I would borrow money or sell small livestock to feed my family.’

Through our local partner, Terepreza Development Association, Tearfund is working with farmers in southern Ethiopia to teach them in new ways of farming. This means they can increase the amount of crops they produce and sell. They are also given training in vital business skills, such as how they can add value to their products and better understand the markets available to them.

This training is done through self-help groups. These groups are made up of around 14 people who meet together regularly to pray, read the Bible and work together to lift themselves out of poverty.

‘I never planned for my farm. Every year I would follow the same routine, grow the same crops and wait for the rain… I never thought of planning for my farm – I didn’t know how to do it,’ explains Emiyas.

A new season
‘We were trained and I’ve gained knowledge on the value of planning for my farm, trying new crops and new methods of farming. Now that I produce with a market-orientated approach I can see a bright future for me and my family.’

Farmers in their self-help groups are now trying a new crop called pigeon peas. Not only is this crop easy to grow, but it's high in protein and vitamins and helps prevent soil erosion too. Although the crop is fairly new in Ethiopia, it has huge local and international market potential. Both the demand and value of the crop are increasing, with India being one of the key importers.

‘I want my family to have enough food throughout the year and to see my children go to school… and I think it will be possible,’ Says Emiyas. ‘With my maize, I would get around 2000 birr [around £50] but now that I have planted pigeon peas and ground nuts, I expect no less than 10,000 [around £230], and this is just the beginning...’

Life is on the up for Emiyas, who is already planning for the next season and dreaming of the day his self-help group will export their produce to India.

Please pray

  • Pray for Emiyas and the other farmers in his self-help group as they put these new skills into action. Pray that they will achieve their dream to export their crops to India.
  • Lift up communities that are struggling with the effects of climate change. Pray especially for farmers, for protection against extreme weather and for abundant harvests so they provide for their families.
  • Pray for the work of Tearfund and our partners as we help people around the world become more resilient to climate change so they will not be pushed back into poverty.

You can read more about the life-giving work we’re doing in Ethiopia here.

Diane Igirimbabazi