As a 45-year-old mother of four living in rural Ethiopia, it’s Belaynesh’s responsibility to feed her family. But it’s a struggle. Due to insufficient income, she’s not able to buy vegetables from the local market. Nor can she grow her own—she can’t access improved vegetable seeds and she doesn’t have the cultural experience to grow and cook a variety of vegetables. Her community has long practiced mono-cropping grain, such as grains—growing the same crop on the same plot of land year after year, taxing the soil and limiting nutrition.
“Before FH Ethiopia entered our kebele, our living condition depended on agriculture. We were facing challenges and issues since we followed traditional agricultural practices and had poor agricultural knowledge, especially on vegetable production,” Belaynesh explains. “Children were much affected by malnutrition...and infectious diseases.”
These very real threats took a toll not only on families’ physical health, but also on their mental health. “We felt hopeless, discomfort,” Belaynesh shares.
In 2014, FH began a partnership with her kebele, Dengali Gongo. Food security was at the top of everyone’s list. Community members quickly got involved in capacity building workshops on income generation, health and hygiene, clean water practices, and agriculture, to name a few. Home vegetable production became a popular way for families to generate income through selling produce in their local markets. In addition to training women and men to successfully grow an abundance of life-giving food, FH also provided a wide variety of improved vegetable seeds and training on how to incorporate new produce into traditional meals.
|It takes a daughter and a neighbour to help harvest these giant |
cabbages, beets, and carrots—delicious and nutritious.
“In our day-to-day challenges, we experienced that lack of agricultural diversification, for example our dependence on only food grain, cannot change or improve our living condition. Rather, following holistic agricultural approaches, for instance, in addition to crop production vegetable production, is important to improve our living condition as an income source and for our daily meal. Nowadays we follow diversified agricultural practice such vegetable production in addition to food grain. We started to generate our own income and can get a balanced diet.”
Belaynesh is relieved to be feeding her children not only enough food, but the right kinds of food to see them grow into healthy, vibrant adults. “My dream is to work harder and food secure my family. I also want to boost my earnings to send my kids to school properly,” she concludes.
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