Photo of the Week: A Bumper Maize Crop in Ethiopia

August 10, 2012

Eshetu Abote, a member of the Shegole coffee farming cooperative in western Ethiopia, crouches near his maize (corn) crop.

 

Eshetu Abote, a member of the Shegole coffee farming cooperative in western Ethiopia, crouches near his maize (corn) crop. The shorter plants on the left were cultivated using traditional methods. The taller plants on the right were grown by farmers during monthly training sessions, delivered by community-based Farmer Trainers as part of TechnoServe’s Coffee Initiative.  This maize was intercropped with beans, which provide nitrogen to the soil. The plot was weeded regularly and fertilizer was applied at the bottom of correctly spaced holes, rather than the usual practice of placing on the surface, ensuring the maize received the nutrients where needed. These measures have helped boost productivity on the farmer-built demonstration plot, where local farmers quickly see the impact of using best practices.

 

Like many farmers in the area, Eshetu sells his coffee for income while growing maize mainly for household consumption. By increasing their maize productivity, farmers can grow a surplus to sell in the local market, boosting their incomes. As part of the Coffee Initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Eshetu and thousands of other Ethiopian farmers are learning farming and business skills that will help them increase yields, optimize the allocation of their land between food and cash crops and improve their food security.