Temegnush had switched from growing the Ethiopian grain teff to high-yielding, drought-tolerant chickpea varieties that required fewer inputs. Through her hard work and by rotating the chickpea and wheat on her 2ha farm with the assistance of her son she prospered.
I was delighted to meet her again last week during my visit to Ethiopia. When I asked her how smallholder farmers smallholder farmers she was faring I was pleased to hear that growing the improved chickpea is still key to her income, but like most farmers she faces many challenges.
“Along with the chickpeas, I also grow wheat cotton, hens for eggs and meat, and cattle for meat and milk. I manage the farm on my own with laborers. My challenges are now environmental aspects like waterlogging, drought and erratic rain, and also changing market prices,” she said.
While Temegnush was fortunate to have had her son’s help, she doesn’t know who will take over the farm. Her only daughter is now working out of the country. This is a challenge facing many farmers as youth leave agriculture in search of opportunities in the cities. So how do we make agriculture ‘cool’ for youth and seen as a business opportunity?
Even in the harsh semi-arid tropics, farmers are making a good income from crops once they are connected to equitable markets as we have seen in the case of chickpea over the past decade in Ethiopia. Temegnush, like other farmers, is well connected to price information which she uses to determine where and when to sell her chickpeas.
Read more about Temegnush’s moving and inspirational story and view a video here
ICRISAT’s current work on chickpeas in Ethiopia is featured in this recent Happenings newsletter.