Vegetable Production Revitalizing the Livelihood of Poor Households - Ferdahusa's story in Somali region

January 20, 2020

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Vegetable production plays a significant role in determining the economic conditions of farmers. Vegetable cultivation presumably supports livelihood primarily through food provision, income generation, and employment because vegetables are preferred cash crops. Integrated Landscape Management to enhance Food Security and Ecosystem Resilience project deliberately focused on the engagement of smallholder farmers particularly women in the production of vegetable and fruit as well as poultry in their homesteads. However, Innovative farmers like Ferdahusa are envisioning to greater livelihood standards.

Ferdahusa is a farmer residing in a small village called Degahale of Gursum woreda of Somali regional state in Ethiopia. She is around 35 old and a mother of three children and has the responsibility of taking care of four other dependents including her old mother and younger sisters. She is among the Integrated Landscape Management and Food Security project beneficiaries.

Ferdahusa has no farmland and her livelihood was dependent on the sale of local tea and coffee to the local community in that small village. The village is inside the Fafen river valley where the groundwater easily available with shallow depth. As a result, some investors are engaged in the production of fruits, particularly orange.

Before the the project came to her area, Ferdahusa’s income was very low and she used to depend on the sale of tea and coffee using local roasting method using charcoal for energy. Her total asset capital was estimated at 3000 ETB and she was living in a rented house. The income from tea and coffee was not sufficient enough to feed her family and she was explorating for alternative income generation options when the project came onboard. One of the major components of the project is to put in place a gender-based socioeconomic strategies to support female-headed households.

Ferdahusa had started to participate in the community gender team so as soon as she understood the focus of the project, she thought about engaging in the production of small agricultural activities including vegetable, fruit and poultry production. She first rented 0.5 ha of farmland in Fafen river valley and started her farm business through the production of onion on this half acre. Recognizing her commitment, the project staff started providing technical and input support. The major support from the project was through input including solar water pump and tomato and onion seed. After the sixth month, she rented additional farmland and boosted vegetable product.

Changes in the livelihoods of Ferdahusa and her family

Currently, Ferdahusa’s income improved dramatically. Yield per hectare increased and production diversified. For instance, in the year 2019, she harvested more than 500 quintals of onion as the result of increased productivity and additional land rent. Her diversified agricultural products include onion, tomato, mango and papaya. These days, Ferdahusa has constructed a new residential house estimated as ETB 830,000 and vegetable seed distribution shop. She also has more than ETB 900,000 in her bank saving account. Ferdahusa is very hardworking, innovative and fast adopting new technologies. She readily shares her knowledge and skills with her fellow farmers. A significant number of other female farmers have also started to engage in vegetable and fruit production. Ferdahusa is brave enough in understanding the opportunity came to the area regarding the increase in seed demand and she started to become seed supplier for the area and built seed distribution shop. Furthermore, she expanded her tea and coffee business through the engagement of her family members.

Ferdahusa’ future business plan 

Ferdahusa is far-sighted and thoughtful and has a plan to increase her income by adding the value of vegetable and fruits. She started distribution of vegetable seed in her newly constructed shop and she planned to sale papaya raw fruit in her shop and juice in her tea and coffee selling cafeteria. Ferdahusa also has a long-term plan to engage in a poultry farm.

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