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Ethiopian woman farmer's message: 'Be on our side'

Tom Grubisich's picture

The future of Ethiopia’s drought-threatened agriculture is in the hands of the country’s resourceful women farmers, Development Marketplace 2009 winner Ehsan Dulloo says.

Dulloo calls the women Ethiopian agriculture's “primary seed custodians.”  They’re the ones who “have to confront significant uncertainty in the climate every year and regularly face food shortages as crops fail,” he says.  That’s why Dulloo and the Institute of Bioversity Conservation in Addis Ababa – where he is a scientist – developed the winning project Seeds for Needs.  (Participating farmer Bertukan Kebede is shown with daughter in photo from project workshop.)

Seeds for Needs aims to benefit 200 woman farmers who are running out of options on their subsistence plots in the increasingly dry highlands of eastern Ethiopia.  Through Seeds for Needs, the woman farmers will get access to new strains of seeds -- produced at gene banks -- that may prove more hardy than the traditional varieties of seeds the farmers have been using to overcome droughts that are more frequent and intense because of climate change.