As we passed through the rolling farmlands full of durum wheat, rye and barley all ready for harvest, it occurred to me that there is really little difference between Canada and Ethiopia in many respects. Certainly our rural roots and heritage are much the same.
In Ethiopia, land holdings are very small. The crop, gardens and livestock will support a family under normal conditions, with perhaps a little leftover for market. The country of Ethiopia is predominantly rural. Estimates vary but as much as 70% or more of the population resides outside the cities. And the people are very much guided by their religion.
Canada is only a generation or two removed from a time when a typical farm was no more than a quarter section. The family lived off the farm output and faith was an important part of life. Our provinces were largely rural.
When we met the Abichu Gna District Manager he said he understood those familiarities. He told us that is why the National Development Strategy urges development districts to emulate the Canadian experience.
He said that coming to them in this way to investigate ways in which we might help was evidence of our concern and recognition of mutual values.
The area certainly had the feel of a peaceful and secure district and had a particularly good environment for development. There was an open and welcoming attitude among local authorities.
This is an area of Ethiopia that CLWR is considering for future development support. There is a great need for water diversion, water retention and irrigation. There is a great deal of good farmland waiting to be broken and brought under cultivation. As well, capacity building and assistance with marketing would go a long way to bringing prosperity.
But here’s something else. There is a great opportunity here for Canadian farmers to use some of their knowledge and ingenuity by coming here in their off-season helping to bring new fields under cultivation, and passing on farming techniques which would maximize the limited resources available. We will work toward determining the feasibility of a farmer-to-farmer development experience.
People here are eager to change their lives and deeply committed to work with anyone who wants to help.
– Tom Brook