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July 18, 2024 Taber

How new farming practices changed Asnakech’s life

Posted on March 31, 2022 by Maple Creek
Inspiring story: Asnakech Zema now grows enough food to feed her eight children in Ethiopia. Photo from Canadian Foodgrains Bank

Asnakech Zema is happy to welcome you to her farm in rural southern Ethiopia.
She introduces her eight children as they are leaving the house for school, armed with books.
Then she leads you to her farm, where she is growing bananas. She points to a well-grown papaya, which she planted thanks to her training in conservation agriculture, a method of improving soil health.
You survey a field where once she planted corn. Now she rotates her crops, and has planted sweet potatoes here. She is also very proud of her pigeon peas.
It was four years ago that Asnakech began training in conservation agriculture. Before then, life was very stressful, except for “God’s blessing”; she constantly worried about the cost of sending her children to school, famine, taxes, and the holiday season.
Asnakech’s story is told through her own words in a short film, “Growing Her Future”, which spotlights Scaling-Up Conservation Agriculture in East Africa, a five-year program that has enabled tens of thousands of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania to practise conservation agriculture.
In Asnakech’s community, the program was implemented by Terepeza Development Association, a partner of Tearfund Canada, a member of Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Government of Canada helped with funding.
The program, aimed at boosting productivity and protecting the environment, has supported improved household food security, climate resilience and women’s empowerment.
Canadian Foodgrains Bank used “Growing Her Future” to start discussions with Canadian members of Parliament about the benefits of supporting agricultural development work through Canada’s aid program.
According to the film, food insecurity is the biggest problem in Ethiopia.
Asnakech says that her family is now sustained by surplus agriculture produces year after year.
Her husband Memhru Simon admits he was initially angered by Asnakech learning a new skill, even rebuking her.
“What kind of education will benefit me when the land hasn’t produced even after we’ve tilled it five to six times per season,” he says. “Then I saw her results, what she learned, and started supporting her.”
The film shows the family at mealtime, while Asnakech reflects on the way she has changed her life, overcome struggles, and is now able to feed her children, get them better clothes, delight in their good marks at school and promotions to higher grades.
Asnakech is today part of a co-operative self-help group (SHG), which has 22 members, who save money together; they are able to buy goats, fatten them, sell them, and share the profit.
The film ends with Ansakech smiling.
“God bless you for coming to visit me and my country. Thanks.”

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