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“My death will never cause famine for my family so long as they are living in Chefa Valley” Young farmer Muhammed Abdu

Community ponds to boost irrigation productivity

By Esubalew Dires


The Organization for Rehabilitation & Development in Amhara (ORDA) & IIRR are implementing Harvest plus project funded by SIDA. They carried out developmental interventions to boost productivity of smallholder agriculturalists and landless youths. Hence, due to its fruitful achievements in pilot areas of the project, SIDA agreed with ORDA to extend the project for two more years. The project is being implemented to benefit 9,600 households (20% FHH) to sustainably improve their productivity and create jobs for 3,600 landless youths and women (20%) in 24 kebeles of districts of Tehuledere and Ambasel at South Wollo and Dewa Chefa & Bati at Oromia administrative zones.

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ORDA, in its intervention districts, deliver better agricultural technologies and improved crop varieties such as Tef (Cross & Kuncho), oil seeds (groundnut, peanut), mung bean, fruits and vegetables which can maximize production of smallholder farmers. Moreover, youths and women got involved in income generation activities such as, fattening, dairy/milking, apiary, poultry and bakery. As a result, they have started the culture of saving money in village saving and loan group.

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"Borkena youths agricultural cooperative" was established in 2009 at Dewa Chefa district. A total of 117 youths (female 13) were given 20 hectares of land from the district. Some years before the intervention of the project, they were mainly dependent on rain. However, they wouldn’t able to harvest enough. Chairman of the cooperative, youth farmer Abdu Muhe said “We were looking at the sky for rain. If God/Allah/ dropped us adequate rain, then, we would get enough production for the family. What we members produce waiting for rain was insufficient. Hence, we obliged to carry out either as daily laborers or be dependent on our families.” He added that “Currently, thanks to ORDA, we members of the cooperative are able to crop two and three times a year. We are very much devoted at our farmlands.   Member of the cooperative and focal person of youths at 012 Blida kebele, a 28 year farmer Muhammed Abdu is the one among others who is showing rapid life changes. He said he was jobless like many of his friends. Though he wasn’t exposed to human trafficking with migration, he misused his time and energy. Youths in the kebele also moved to a small town (Woledi) and wasted their time and money there instead of taking part in developmental actions. 

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Young farmer Muhamed before they started using irrigation which looks green all year round now said “when ORDA and office of agriculture of Dewa Chefa district inquired us to excavate the sample pond in 2013 by our labor, we considered them as jokers. I thought it was unimaginable to dig out such a 7 meter wide pond with human labor. Finally, when they continuously insisted us, we did it.” In that time, ORDA supported those united youths cement, sandstone, rock, pumping machine and a thousand meter tube. This was their first trial which made them aware of the importance of pond irrigation system. In the first trial season, cooperative members like farmer Jemal, Abdu and Muhammed earned 17 thousand, 10 thousand and 8 thousand birr respectively.

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These groups of youths were encouraged to dig out two more communal ponds which can harvest their 20 hectares of land. Focal person of youth affairs of the kebele, young farmer Muhammed Abdu, for example earned 11 thousand birr by harvesting improved maize which is better than what he earned 5 thousand birr from onion. In 2014/15 irrigation season, he got 15 thousand birr. The project also assisted him to make assets. Moreover, he is now renting farmlands and producing crops with the money he earned. 2 oxen, 10 sheep, 8 cows, a 33 & 41 corrugated iron house for his mom & himself are the assets he brought in. He claimed that members are getting better income than what a person earns working with a risky human trafficking to Arab countries. Each member now earns 25 thousand birr annually.

However, the supply of improved crop varieties and market linkage is the main treat they stated during our stay. ORDA and office of agriculture should work hand in hand to solve these challenges. Youths are envisioned to use modern tractors to carry out extensive farming and planned to participate in industrial developments.

I paused a question how much members work to change the attitude of youths who are frequently migrating to Arab countries. He said they have organized 45 jobless youths that came back to their destination offering 3 hectares of land. He remarked “we advised migrants to stop a risky journey crossing the border lines.” They instead suggested them to work hard and change their lives in their country. Chefa Valley is potentially rich in underground water and the land is also fertile. However, youths and smallholder farmers stared up the sky for rain instead of digging and taking out water from their land. Farmer muhammed stated “We have enough water, we have fertile land. But we felt thirsty and hungry. If we are committed, we can change our selves. My death will never cause famine for my family so long as they are living in Chefa Valley.”

ORDA achieved its targets both in creating jobs for youths and sharing its better agricultural technologies to other farmers in the district. Farmers of Borkena and Adeye have constructed 14 communal ponds and started to benefit from irrigation. The government and stakeholders should strengthen the successes of ORDA in order to benefit jobless youths, women, and smallholder agriculturalists.

It’s known that youths in the area are highly vulnerable to human trafficking. Several youths were landless and jobless and they were relied on their families. In recent times, ORDA in its Harvest plus project came with a pioneer developmental intervention: constructing communal pond which has a capacity to irrigate from 8 to 12.5 hectares of land. The intervention is intended to exploit the rich potential of underground water of Dewa Chefa district.

ORDA practically carried out construction of ponds and showed fruitful achievements. This is really a sounding experience which should be scaled out not only regionally but also nationally. Farming cooperatives at Blida, Dagut and Borkena changed productivity of the area using communal ponds. Successes of the project opened the eyes of many farmers and enhanced them to dig out more communal ponds.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 09 June 2015 11:16)

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