How Agroecology Secures Livelihoods

For most people in rural Ethiopia agriculture is the basis of their existence. 85% of Ethiopians work in agriculture (source:  CIA World Factbook). Most of them have to earn a living as small farmers; often their yield does not last until the next harvest: Families depend on emergency aid. The reasons for this are manifold:

  • Areas under cultivation are too small
  • Outdated methods of cultivation and irrigation
  • Advancing erosion
  • Unreliable rains
  • Lack of access to seeds
  • Post-harvest losses due to incorrect storage

This is why it is important to strengthen this sector with the transfer of knowledge and new techniques. For this purpose we train farmers in the correct way to terrace and plant their fields to obtain maximum yield. They furthermore obtain access to improved seeds and new types of fruit and vegetable such as carrots, Swiss chard, cabbage, beetroot or tomatoes. This not only improves families’ nutritional situation on a long-term basis but the vitamin-rich diet also has a positive impact on their health.

In addition to that we include the following measures in the area of agroecology:

  • Agricultural courses for cultivation and irrigation methods
  • Courses for food production and processing
  • Introduction to soil conservation methods, irrigation systems and compost fertilization
  • Erosion control and reforestation on eroded land
  • Setup of nurseries for the production of tree, fruit and vegetable seedlings
  • Introduction of more productive chickens and improved beehives
  • Introduction of allotment gardens and distribution of grain and vegetable seeds, and fruit tree seedlings with a view to ensuring food security
  • Distribution of feed seeds and feed crop seedlings to improve the care of cattle and increase yields
  • Introduction of breeding bovines as well as the development of veterinary treatment for animals

The combination of measures leads to the improvement of food security in an entire region. Families can stock up and are well provided for in case of possible crop failures.

 

Reforestation of eroded land

In Ethiopia wood is a precious good and plays a central role in people’s everyday life: demand is huge be it for the construction of houses or huts, or for firewood. Every day women and girls spend many hours collecting wood. But also the demand for new cultivation areas results in deforestation since old cultivation areas are too small for large families or have become unusable due to erosion or poor soil quality. There are many different reasons that have led to the fact that today only 11% of the country are covered by forest (source: Global Forest Watch). Measures to counteract this have to be just as diverse in order to give the land the possibility to recover. The introduction of low-energy cooking stoves, for example, aims at saving women time in their daily chores as well as decreasing families’ wood consumption.

Large areas of reforestation and protection zones for old stock of trees contribute to the environment’s slow recovery in our project regions. Targeted planting of timber that can be “harvested” by the population after a relatively short period of time, and indigenous trees that strengthen and return nutrients to the soil turn once barren landscapes into prosperous, fertile land.