Talame and her husband are farmers from Ethiopia. But no matter how hard Talame and her husband worked on their small plot, every year they would run out of food.
Because they couldn’t grow enough food, Talame had to reduce the number of meals that she, her husband and her children ate each day.
Then, one day, Talame’s husband came home and talked about a new way of farming he had never heard about before: conservation agriculture.
Conservation agriculture is a no-till and low-input method of farming that helps farmers revitalize the soil and increase their yields. Today, no-till agriculture is widely practiced already in Canada.
But in many parts of Africa, people are still farming using the same techniques their families have been using for generations. For a long time, this approach worked fine for many, allowing them to live comfortably off the land.
But the population of Ethiopia is expanding rapidly, putting more pressure on limited fertile land. At the same time, traditional ways of farming are depleting the nutrients in the soil.
As a result, many families are finding themselves in the same predicament as Talame – they can’t grow enough to last the year, never mind growing enough to be able to sell.
Risk pays off
“We decided we would try it!” As the family member most responsible for working on the family’s farmland, Talame thought she would give conservation agriculture a try.
Over the course of two growing seasons, her involvement in the program has paid off. I just harvested my second round of crops,” she says. “Between my current harvest and from what I used to harvest, my yield has increased three times.”
Talame took a risk by trying a new method of farming she wasn’t familiar with, and it has paid off. She is glad that thanks to new methods of farming, her children will have a better life than she has.
“They are going to school,” she says. “They can do whatever they like. That’s all that matters to me.”