Saving Lives with New Farming Practices
My name is Abay Kennedy and I grew up in Ethiopia. As a child, I observed the devastating impact of droughts and famine on my family, community, and homeland. Even though I currently reside in the United States, Ethiopia is never far from my mind. Bringing modern irrigation techniques to my homeland is a heartfelt and passionate endeavor. If you can make a contribution to this project, I will be personally grateful.
In the hot, arid climate of Ethiopia, farming is highly dependent on the wet season in order to grow sufficient food for both people and livestock for the entire year. The goal of the Abay Agricultural Project (AAP) is to bring modern dry farming to the area. This will allow us to increase crop production three to four times by relying upon irrigation and more drought resistant crops as opposed to cultivating traditional crops in the rainy season. This approach drastically increases farming efficiency and minimizes the potential for famines, which have long plagued this region.
Gibe River will be used for irrigation Drought damaged corn crops
What is Dry Farming?
Dry farming is farming with techniques to compensate for a lack of natural rainfall. These techniques include the use of irrigation to bring in water from some other source and the growing of more drought resistant crops. The use of water-pump generators and other irrigation equipment, allows water to be pumped either from some body of water or an underground aquifer. This method reduces reliance upon rainfall which is often unpredictable in both time and amount. Irrigation places the control of agricultural water in the farmer’s hands rather than leaving him at the mercy of nature.
Dry farming methods eliminate reliance on seasonal rain and increas food out put
AAP has purchased about 1000 acres of land located near the Gibe River, one of the largest rivers in Ethiopia. The Gibe which flows year round is a very reliable source of water. The funding request is for $50,000 to purchase a water-pump generator and other irrigation equipment. This equipment will allow AAP to implement modern farming practices instead of relying upon traditional farming methods, which have often led to insufficient food production and famine.
In addition to dry farming, AAP plans to introduce drought-resistant crops including wheat, barley, corn, cotton, and safflower.
AAP currently grows and raises a number of crops during the rainy season, some for experiumental purposes only, which includes :
• Food Crops - Corn, Wheat, Teff, Millet & Sorghum
• Pulse Crops - Soya Beans, Haricot Beans, Horse Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils & Field Peas
• Vegetables Crops - Garlic, Onions, Tomatoes, Lettuce & Green Peppers
• Commercial Livestock Production
The purpose of this project is to increase food production in a poor drought ridden country. AAP proposes to do this by the implementation of modern dry farming techniques. This will substantially improve life for many people in this famine prone area in both the immediate future as well as for many years to come. If this conversion to dry farming and other modern practices proves successful, then we predict that this approach will spread to other farms, communities, and countries in Africa.
While Ethiopian soil creates a fertile growing environment, much of the land’s potential is untapped. Traditionally, Ethiopian crops are only grown once a year in the rainy season. The rest of the year, the land is idle as sustenance crop production halts. Some regions of the country are too arid to successfully produce even one crop. When droughts occur, the rainy season becomes even shorter and this contributes to famine.
The dry season follows the harvest of the wet season and the land becomes idle. The land dries out and consists of brown, dusty, and lifeless soil. Land, farmers, and plows are inactive for the next six to seven months. There is a lack of rain to sustain sufficient crops. Without growth of vegetation, food supplies become scarce. Livestock production is also hurt with overgrazing and shortages of feed.
Now is the time for AAP’s creative dry farming and drought-resistant farming ideas to be implemented on a large scale. AAP has already experimented with these techniques began by hiring local farmers to cultivate about 300 acres of land. These farmers successfully employed irrigation and planted drought resistant crops to produce sustainable food, year round!
AAP is also educating farmers about improved seed varieties and agricultural practices. These farmers will serve as role models who will help whole communities improve the yields from their harvests. If we get full funding, this project is expected to be completed by mid-2014.
The two major benefits of this campaign are job creation and the sustainable year round production of food. Job creation is important because it becomes a “force multiplier” for the other positive benefits of the campaign. People with good jobs not only are able to support themselves and their families but they help support various other local businesses and the employees of those businesses through their purchase of goods and services. More people with jobs mean a better more prosperous community.
This campaign will create jobs in three types of ways. First when the Abay Agricultural Project is in fully operational it will have positions for 10 permanent full time employees, with the possibility of more in any future expansion. Second AAP will be requiring between 50 and 100 seasonal employees for work on planting and harvests. Finally, in the long term this project will create other jobs in the community as other farmers come in and copy our methods and approach. Students from local schools will also be coming in to learn and eventually copy what we are doing when they get involved in farming themselves.
Having three to four harvests per year instead of only one will protect the area from the famines that have plagued it for so many years. In additoin the production of surplus food will contribute substantially to the economic development of the region. These benefits will go to the people directly rather than being filtered through government bureacracies and officials, as is the case with many foreign aid programs. People will learn to help themselves rather than being dependent on handouts from other countries or the government.
I hope that you strongly consider funding this worthwhile project to allow us to:
Purchase irrigation water-pump generators, Portable & Stationary
fund sprinklers, pipes, valves & accessories
Cover expenses for professional services for equpiment installation and R&D on drought resistant crops
Cover overhead expenses
If we don't get full funding for our project, we will use the money we have received for the rental of irrigation equipment to be used for the implementation of as much of the project as possibile.
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