Daniel Tesfu M&E and Communications Coord. via web
What looked like a commercial maize farm from the top, turned out to be maize fields of the DryDev supported Cheffe Yealem Cooperative members. It was just like an oasis after passing by large tracts of barren lands. Subsistence farmers here have already transitioned to sustainable livelihoods in less than two year and a one-time investment of less than US$20 per person for the member household. Till 2015, while residing just next to perennial Awash rivers, these small holder farmers had been relying on rain fed agriculture and were unable to produce even to feed their families. They had been on food aid for many years. Addressing water shortage was identified as the top priority in the DryDev bottom up community planning process in 2015 and the solution was to access and use the water from the river. DryDev helped them organise in cooperatives and facilitated the cooperatives in buying water pumps worth USD 3000 each on cost sharing basis. This was supplemented with training on good agronomic practices and access to improved seed varieties and fertiliser from the Union. 159 member households of two Cooperatives (Lega Denfa and Cheffe Yealem cooperatives) are now benefitting from the water, harvesting three crops a year including Teff, Maize, Onion and vegetables from nearly 72 hectares of irrigated land. They sell collectively, and the buyers collect the produce from the Farm. This gives them better rate for their produce and they also save on transportation cost. From Onion sale only, individual cooperative members have earned up to 55,000 birr (USD 2500) just last week. Mr Geda, the leader of Lega Denfa Cooperative shared that:
''before getting organised and working with DryDev, we were used to harvest one crop per year and were even unable to feed our families and now we harvest thrice. Change is so enormous that I can’t express. In the past, at times, we won’t have any harvest at all and now we have savings in Bank. ''
Community have moved from hand to oxen ploughing and believe that they would soon be having a tractor. They have bought shares in the Union. Increased farm work is creating jobs especially at the time of onion nursery transplanting, harvesting and grading of produce. The area has already been declared food secure by the Woreda Government and has graduated out from food aid program.