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Improving Harvests in Ethiopia

Ahmed Yimer, Ethiopia, harvesting his improved Tef, grown from seeds provided by Concern Worldwide, with the support of Irish Aid. Photo: Concern

"We have never seen yields like this. We will use any money we earn from selling the extra for schooling and clothing."

On a small farm in the Ethiopian Highlands Ahmed Yimer grows tef, a staple grain in Ethiopia, to support his wife and five children.

In the Highlands, which are 3000m above sea level, nights get very cold, and frost threatens harvests, as does Striga, a parasitic weed.

We have never seen yields like this. We will use any money we earn from selling the extra for schooling and clothing. I want my children to be learned, but most of all I want them to be self-reliant.” 

Poor harvests in 2010 and 2011 meant that Ahmed couldn’t save any seeds for the next sowing season and had to sell the family’s only cattle, to stave off hunger.  With their circumstances worsening, Ahmed’s children stopped attending school to work as labourers, earning money for food.

Concern Worldwide, with Irish Aid support, provided Ahmed with improved high-yielding, resilient tef seeds.  Ahmed said, “we had no idea about improved seeds before this”. In partnership with the Local Government, Concern Worldwide also provided Ahmed with training and advice on how to increase yields and sell any surplus tef by forming co-ops with other farmers.

Ahmed said, “these seeds are better than the local seeds. When I harvest, I will store some seed until next season and will sell some to other farmers. We will, of course, eat most of it! This year, I will expect better of life. “