Manitoba farm couple experiences ag in Ethiopia

Apr 04, 2016

Trip was part of a Canadian Foodgrains Bank initiative

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content

A farm couple from Killarney, Manitoba recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia where they experienced local agriculture and the struggles farmers are faced with.

Betty and Dennis Turner joined 10 others from Jan. 28 to Feb. 12 as part of a Canadian Foodgrains Bank initiative to help farmers in Ethiopia manage drought.

Betty Turner told CBC News Manitoba that Ethiopian farms range in size from one-half to one hectare in size and are located in rocky, dry hillsides. Despite the differences in land makeup, Turner said there’s at least one thing that all farmers are faced with.

“Like us here in Manitoba, they need rain to make crops grow,” she told CBC News. “So we could feel their pain in wanting crops to grow or food to grow to feed their families.”

During the trip, local farmers showed their Canadian visitors water conservation methods including using banana leaves, maize leaves and manure to create a moisture-restoring mulch.

The resourcefulness of the farmers was one thing, but Turner said the sheer work ethic of some of the women really stood out for her.

"The women carried 20 litres of water on their back from the river up their terrace to fill empty pop bottles that were made into a drip system," she said.

According to Turner, the women would perform the three kilometre trek nearly 10 times per day and when asked about the physical toll, would respond that they were happy to have a job.

After experiencing Ethiopian agriculture, Turner said she’s blessed to live in Canada.


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