THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD Newspaper 12 MAY 2016: MINJAR SHANKORA, North Shoa – It has been a common belief in many parts of this country that urban areas are the only heart of development and money making instead of rural places. Again for long, rural areas have been associated with backwardness and very traditional thoughts. And the same was true to rural residents or smallholder farmers. This had been one of the major factors which inhibited growth of the agriculture sector.
But presently, this is becoming history in many areas of the country. Farmers are making remarkable changes in various development sectors. Minjar Shankora district farmers could be testimony for this as they have been able to run big businesses in towns parallel to their farming activities.
Abusetugn Bahru, 48, is a father of six at Bolesilassie village in Minjar Shankora district. He was engaged in cultivating onions and teff in his one hectare plot some twenty years ago. Recently, he told EPA journalists: “I was not beneficiary as I can’t penetrate the market places to sell my produce because of absence of road infrastructure and robbery in my vicinity till late 1980s E.C.”
He said that after the down fall of the Derg regime and emergence of public-driven development strategies and its favorable agricultural policy, free entree and exit policy to the market and the expansion of social facilities enabled me to become capable businessman with a total capital of over 13 million Birr.
“My farmland is the same but because of the modern agricultural inputs, agricultural training, introduction of line sowing and prevalence of peace and stability, we are becoming beneficiaries. It is free to do any business under this regime. To this end, the expansion of roads, health institutions, education, rural electrification program and banking services played tremendous role and described it as the foundation of his investment in Arerti.”
He said that there were over eight governmental and private banks in his locality. It saved us from theft and robbery which was common in the area in the former days.
Ethalemahu Tekola, 56, is also another farmer in Minjar Shankora. Life was so hard to her when she divorced 15 years ago. At that time, it was very difficult to move alone to fetch water for widow woman like me, she said. “I used to travel upto three hours to fetch water accompanied by my kids. I also had to look after my farmland. Getting health services for my children was also arduous,” Ethalemahu told reporters.
Thanks to the government’s equal participation, empowerment and equality policy programs and the freedom we ladies have got the chance to engage in all areas. “My kids and I do not waste time travelling too far to fetch water since water is available at nearby place. This time, nothing is challenging for me. With over 1.7 million Birr capital I have become a woman who can afford private school fee for my children. I built houses in the town and rented for hotel service. I have no words to thank this government,” she said.
Belay Gebremeskel was extremely poor some ten years back. “I have nothing to put aside for tomorrow,” said Belay recalling his past life. One day, Belay had a chance to listen to experiences of successful farmers in dairy farming and line sowing technologies organized by the government. He then started to go through his farm according to the training he was given and lesson he got from others. Immediately, the amount of production of his plot has grown from 14 to 35 quintals, he said.
Again, he was engaged in dairy farming besides his farming activities. He began to supply milk to hotels in Arerti town. “Within a short period of time I attained the level of well-to-do families in big towns accumulating a total capital of 1.5 million Birr. I could have remained blind had it not been for the experience sharing programs the government provided me.”
BY HAFTU GEBREZGABIHER