Nelly Bassily | January 16, 2012
Ethiopia has an extremely varied geography and climate. Its highland areas are very fertile, and provide a good climate for growing both tropical and temperate fruits. Some kinds of temperate fruit were introduced centuries ago by Europeans; others, like the apple, are relatively new introductions.
Here’s a general introduction to agriculture in Ethiopia from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture_in_Ethiopia
Here are 13 photos which accompanied the original story, as published in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/gallery/2011/dec/21/farming-eastern-ethiopia-in-pictures
Here are two stories on growing temperate fruits in Ethiopia:
Temperate fruits transforming lives in a tropical country: http://www.norway.org.et/News_and_events/etiopia/fruits/
Apple trees transform the life of a farmer in Ethiopia http://220.127.116.11/news.nsf/news/ethiopia-agriculture-200903-enews?OpenDocument&ref=eNewsArchive&lpos=ctr_txt_eNews_Archive-ethiopia-agriculture-200903-enews
And here is a report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on fruit nurseries in two Ethiopian states:
FAO’s Fruit Nurseries in Amhara and Tigray Regions: Vibrant Projects Full of Promise http://www.fao.org/uploads/media/FocusMagazine8.pdf
Farm Radio International has published a number of scripts on the benefits of growing fruits. See the following two, for example:
Fruit Changes Farmers’ Lives (Package 81, Script 10, August 2007). http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/81-10script_en.asp
Growing fruit trees: A Participatory Radio Campaign in Uganda helps farmers earn income, improve the environment and enhance household nutrition (Package 94, Script 2, December 2011). http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/94-2script_en.asp
If you live in a highland area, farmers may already be growing apples, pears, cherries, grapes, or other temperate fruit. If not, temperate fruit production might be a good investment, especially if there is easy access to large towns and cities, or to export markets. Of course, growing fruit also brings health benefits – if, unlike the farmer in the story, your family decides to actually eat the fruit!
Talk to farmers and extension workers in your listening area. Find out if the climatic conditions are right for growing temperate fruit. If so, is there a ready market? Does your national government have any plans to diversify into producing temperate fruit? Interview an official from the Ministry of an extension supervisor. Perhaps some farmers have tried growing temperate fruit in the past, and failed. But perhaps conditions have changed. Maybe the road infrastructure has improved, or nearby towns have grown and offer a larger and more diversified market.