For farmers like Sisay and Kelemua, the seeds of success were few and far between.
The two farmers from Boset in Ethiopia spent most of their lives struggling to produce enough food in the parched dry earth on which their families depended.
Change happened for Sisay and Kelemeu when they joined 6,000 farmers in Wirtu Boset farmers cooperative, and began working with Self Help Africa to make good quality grain seed available to cereal growers across the region.
The Self Help Africa project directly targeted the fragile seed systems which led to successive years of poor yields. Tapping into this agricultural research know-how enabled the farmers’ coop to produce new strains of resilient and drought tolerant seed, which improved harvests, and agricultural livelihoods.
This isn’t GMO, just a combination of scientific knowledge and local determination that has helped Sisay and Kelemeu, and thousands like them, to produce more grain in their fields.
In addition to addressing the critical shortage of improved seeds, the project also established local farmers in to a seed producer cooperative, and in just a few years, the difference that it has made to the lives of farmers in the Boset region is apparent.
With the extra money they have earned, Sisay and Kelemua have started a small farm tool rental business, which includes the hiring out of a machine thresher. This equipment removes the seeds from the stalks and husks, and demonstrably improves the quality of seeds compared to traditional hand methods.
As well as improving their own lives, Sisay and Kelemua are helping their neighbours plant the seeds for a successful future too.