Ethiopia: a country rife with challenges and a nation of farmers ready to take them on. With the land fragmented and the soil difficult to cultivate, the best quality equipment is essential.
Oxen and a maresha ard plow are labour-intensive, expensive for farmers with no ox of their own and bad for the soil, while four-wheeled tractors are too unwieldy, not to mention beyond the means of most farmers. Enter the two-wheeled tractor, easy to manoeuvre and ideal for tilling the soil, sowing/planting and weeding. Tebebe Solomon, managing director of TGT Enterprise, came to RVO.nl with an idea for a project that could give Ethiopian farmers a leg up.
“Two-wheeled tractors have been introduced in Ethiopia before”, Tebebe explains, “But failing good after-sales and maintenance, they never really got off the ground. We realised there was a gap and that we could fill it. Now we’ve got a reliable Dutch partner, Rumptstad Machinery, to supply the machines, partial financing from RVO.nl (via its sustainable enterprise and food security fund), Wageningen University to supply research and expertise on sustainability aspects, and we’ve arranged trainings and demos and a lease structured to fit the needs of most farmers.”
“As well as financial support, RVO.nl also provided coaching and advice during the entire process. That enabled us to partner with Wageningen University, the Alterra research group, Cascape Regional coordinators, Rumptstad (a manufacturer of tractors and tillage implements) and other stakeholders. This strong coalition has been key to the project’s success – all thanks to RVO.nl.”
Road to success
“Obviously, good-quality machines was the first step!” Tebebe laughs. “That’s were Rumptstad came in. But this was just the beginning. To ensure success in the long run, you have to address all the issues. Aside from constantly monitoring the soil and equipment, you also have to arrange for the distribution, training, maintenance and repairs, spare parts and so forth. We make sure there are sufficient training outlets to teach farmers how to use the machines and to guarantee the longest lifespan.”
Women at work
“One of the project’s requirements is to promote women’s participation at every level. TGT works with various organisations to achieve this. A good example is the Millennium Hope Development Organization, a local NGO targeting HIV-infected women who have lost their husbands to AIDS. We train them and give them one tractor that they can lease to other farmers to cover the tractor costs. They started just after the rainy season this year, with great results so far.”