Ethiopia

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Drought resistant seeds for food security

To improve household food security, CCFC introduced a project to distribute drought resistant and high-yielding seed varieties such as bean, barley, maize and wheat to the local farmers. This has contributed a lot to not only addressing food insecurity issues of local farmers in the community, but is also supporting neighboring communities who, year after year, face similar challenges.

The revolving seed project supports farmers in the area by ensuring that they have access to improved varieties of drought resistant seeds. The project distributed 25 kg of haricot bean, 50 kg of wheat, 50 kg of barley or 50 kg of maize to local farmers, based on compatibility of the seed with their farming land and their ability to pay 10% of the cost of purchasing the seed.

The farmers are expected to return what they have been given in double during the harvest season. From what the farmers return, they will save some seeds for their next harvest while they also contribute by giving seeds for new groups of farmers to involve in the revolving seed project.

This is bringing great results as it is allowing scaling up of the project. It is also encouraging the farmers to improve their saving habits. Moreover, the farmers are encouraged to save 10% of the payment in a bank for insurance purposes. If any crop failure occurs, that money will be used to replace the lost crop for the whole community. This money will also be used to purchase new selected seeds as the seed loses its productivity after three years. All these activities are run by 13 selected revolving seed committees of the farmers themselves.

Three years ago, total members of the revolving seed project were around 240 farmers. Now, the total number of farmers has reached 560. This year the farmers have been able to replace the old seeds and have added new varieties of seeds which they purchased with their savings. This shows that implementation of the project by the farmers themselves will ensure sustainability for the future and enable them to exercise community developmental activity by themselves.

Lyon Erkiso is one the seed committee leaders and has seen tremendous change in his life from being a member of the revolving seed project. Lyon lives with his wife and five children. He used to face scarcity of seed during the rainy season each year. This used to force him to rent some of his farming lands to other richer farmers in the area. But, after he became a member of the revolving seed project, he was able to get high yielding and drought resistant seeds that he was able to sow on all his farm lands. This has increased his production significantly. Now, he is able to feed all his family members throughout the year and all of his five children are also attending school. He has been using the crops not only for household consumptions, but he has also been selling his crops in the local market to get additional money to purchase different household items such as furniture for his house.

“Many local farmers, including me used to face crop failure from lack of drought resistant seed varieties particularly during the rainy season,” Lyon describes. “This forced some of the farmers to take loans with excess interest from local rich merchants and sell their cattle to buy food for their families, and to buy seeds for planting during the rainy season. Last year, I took 50 Kg of wheat and collected a yield of eight sacks (800 kg), after using some of it for feeding my family, and I sold the remaining each for profit.”

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