Widowed farmer finds hope on farm radio information

Weyzero Weletebrehan Berhe is a 53-year-old farmer living in the northern Ethiopian Tigray Region. She lives in a small rural area called Lesaleso. The northern part of Ethiopia gets minimal rainfall and since virtually all theagricultural practices are dependent on rain, it is difficult to make a living as a farmer. After her husband died suddenly, Welete-Berehan was faced with the responsibility of raising four daughters alone while taking over the farming operation that is the main source of income and food.

Ethiopian Tigray Region. She lives in a small rural area called Lesaleso. The northern part of Ethiopia gets minimal rainfall and since virtually all the agricultural practices are dependent on rain, it is difficult to make a livingas a farmer. After her husband died suddenly, Welete-Berehan was faced with the responsibility of raising four daughters alone while taking over the farming operation that is the main source of income and food.

She owns a 0.5-hectare farm where she mainly cultivates teff, wheat and chickpea. Losing her husband, raising the girls, household chores, and labor-intensive farm work were overwhelming challenging at first. 

“I was very frustrated with all the responsibilities that came down on me and it was difficult to be a widow in a patriarchal community like ours’ she said.

Since she wasn’t able to work on the farm and raise her children at the same time, she started renting out her farmland to get half of the produce from her land in return. The crop that she received from that arrangement was barely enough for her own family consumption, so she was forced to sell “Tella” (a local beer).

She says with the development of the agriculture extension system, their strong educational and technical support and with investment of the money she saved from her business over the years, she started hiring workers for her farm, instead of renting it for a half share. She registered as a designated TAP (Technology Adoption Plot) farmer under IMPACT project.

She also has a radio set that she plays for her customers while they are drinking the beer she sells, and she listens to the radio along with them.

“I have learned the value of information through the years. I was blinded because I believed that I couldn’t be a farmer because I thought I knew nothing about it, and I couldn’t learn farming because I am a woman. The improved farming practices I heard on the radio showed me better ways of managing my farm and increasing my income”.

When project staff arrived at her house for a visit, she was talking to one of her workers about the safe application of chemical pesticides. She was advising him about protecting his face and mouth from contact with the chemical and to wear different clothing during chemical application — all information she used she heard on the radio. This radio show was one of the initiatives funded under AGRA’s three pillars—policy, systems and partnerships, within the 11-country Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Growth in Africa strategy.

“Being a mother of 4 daughters and being a woman myself, I learned from the radio programs broadcast on Demtsi Weyane Radio a day before, that extra caution should be taken when applying chemicals.”

Welete-Berehan said that she hopes to continue to learn new and better ways to farm, from the radio programs. Increased production on her small farm will give her family a better future.

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