Asrese: a role model for other Ethiopian rice farmers (Ethiopia)
Asrese Lemma, 52, is a farmer in Ethiopia’s Libo Kemkem district, one of the two target areas of MEDA’s EDGET (Ethiopians Driving Growth, Entrepreneurship and Trade) project. She has five children under the age of 18. Three are in school and two help their mother in daily activities at home.
With no oxen or sufficient labour to plow and weed her land, and no access to financial resources to buy seeds and fertilizer, etc., Asrese usually rents out the land to other farmers in a share cropping arrangement where they share the produce equally. She has done this for the last four years, but her share of the crop was not enough to feed her family, and she couldn’t tap the full potential of the land for the benefit of her family.
EDGET’s gender component includes sensitive interventions and targets to teach at least 25% women farmers. After three days of training on rice growing, Asrese decided to farm the land herself. She used the per diem she earned during the training session to pay extra labour costs and rent oxen. With her new skills, Asrese planted her rice seedlings in rows on her land – a new practice being promoted in the area. The project also extends technical support to clients through MEDA partner Adet Agriculture Research Center. With a voucher providing a 40% subsidy, Asrese purchased 25kg of improved rice seed and fertilizer. She had also learned about weeding as a critical practice to enhancing yields, so she hired labourers to help her family.
While it’s too soon to see an increase in income, Asrese was empowered to cultivate her own land. She became confident that with the support of the project, she can better manage the farm to increase productivity, thereby increasing her income. She is happy with the performance of the crop and proud that she has tried row planting, where other male farmers continue to broadcast the seeds. This makes her a role model for other farmers in the area.