Saturday, July 30, 2011

rights of Ethiopian pastoralists?

Today i just fell on this article from the Montreal gazette :

Ethiopia's leasing of arable land adding to crisis: report

I learnt very interesting things, as for example that pastoralists have the right to not be displaced from their own land and must be consulted when land is taken over. By chance, during a workshop last week, I was discussing the land certification process for the Amhara region with one of the experts. Land certification in Ethiopia is a process which regulate a sort of private ownership on land (guaranteed used of the land for a maximum of 99 years) . Amhara region is going pretty well compared to other region, and has certified all its highly productive crop land and is in process of creating a cadaster.
But the expert I talked to, was coming back from the lowlands in the Benishangul region and Amhara (area near to the Sudanese boarder). It seems that it is the only area where the certification process is not finished for the Amhara region. Interesting, as this implies that these people cannot prove ownership on their land, and therefore cannot enforce their rights. It seems that some farmers have a very hard time in getting their land certified, while other farmers signed a paper that they would leave their land, if needed. Also rumors indicate that some of this land is on the list for foreign investors (or "land grabber")...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

When Swiss farmers become fishermen

Fishery is often seen as an interesting option for farm diversification, especially in developing countries. Indeed, a pond with fish is new source of healthy protein for the farmer and allows to store water for the dry season.

But now, also Swiss farmers have discovered fishery as an interesting option for income diversification. The recent report in the Swiss news shows that some farmers instead of their pigs, are breeding salmon.

Farmers keep the fish on farms only during growing time, when the salmon needs warm water and sell them to the traditional fish industry for the finishing in cold water. Following the report, this is much more efficient and environmentally friendly than making use of the traditional fishery infrastructure, because farmers can make use of synergies. The energy needed to keep the water warm can be made with biogas (livestock) and the waste can be re-used on farm.

Farmers who become fishermen : a model to follow-up.
Watch the report from the Swiss news here :

10vor10 vom 26.07.2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Droughts in Ethiopia

Last week, I joined one of our team into the fields in Woreta, near to Tana lake. The surroundings of Tana lake belong to the high potential locations for agriculture. During the current long rainy season (my flight was unable to land in Bahir Dar due to heavy storm) farmers are fighting with excess water. Drainage systems and rice cultivation on non-permeable soils are the answers to these heavy rains. In some places maize was flooded and house almost under water.

Flooding near Woreta

The green watershed about 10 km from Woreta
The rice fields in the Woreta plain

After one week in the field with no access to internet and other news, it is pretty shocking have all my friends worried because they have seen pictures of drought and starvation in news :

Interestingly enough, the news was not shared in the few English newspaper of Ethiopia, and as usual some internet pages were blocked. In Addis, it is business as usual, food shortages have not increased.

The big discrepancy between North and South in Ethiopia can be explained by the diversity of Ethiopia in terms of elevation and rainfall. The Ethiopian highland in the North around Tana lake belongs to the humid tropic and is source of the Blue Nile. This area has water excess rather than water shortage these days. The South and lowlands on the contrary experience droughts. The map below (taken from the Ethiopian rural economy atlas from IFPRI) shows annual rainfall and clearly shows much lower rainfall in the South near to the Somali border compared to the Tana lake (blue feature in the North) area.