We bring farmers together to learn new ideas, address challenges, and share their collective knowledge. With new skills and knowledge, farmers lower their costs and increase crop yield, lifting families out of poverty and malnutrition.

Led by Workineh Genetu, Project Leader and Ethiopia ’s Farmer of the Year from 2007 – 2010, Farmers ’ Associations provide a forum for farmers to learn and share ideas – building a network of support across villages. Each association is comprised of 50 farmers (both men and women) who form as a legal association. This allows the association members to experience advantages such as buying seeds and organic fertilizers which they often can ’t do on their own.

When an association is first organized, Project Ethiopia provides each farmer with five good quality sickles, a watering can, two grain storage bags, and support setting up a savings account. Farmers also have the opportunity to select from a “menu ” of items such as beehives or gardening equipment. Together, these tools and supplies support higher yields, more efficient harvesting, and, ultimately, improvements in family income and food security.

Once off the ground, Farmers ’ Associations meet once a month to share experiences and learn about improved farming practices from other farmers and agricultural instructors. For example, association meetings have been used:

  • to disseminate information on the harmful effects of many pesticides and herbicides frequently used on Ethiopian farms.
  • to discuss how these chemicals damage the local bee population which will have a devastating impact on future crop production.

When there is urgent need to disseminate information such as drought or prolonged rain or government “promotion ” of harmful pesticides, the Farmers ’ Association members relay information to the approximately 300 farmers in their Association area. Churches have been willing to allow Farmers ’ Association members to announce important information during church services so as to keep all farmers informed of best practices.

At a Glance

7 active Farmers ’ Associations

45 villages represented

350 farmers

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STORIES FROM THE FIELD:

Diluted Urine – An Organic, Free Source of Nitrogen

An innovative practice tested by Project Ethiopia and shared through the Farmers ’ Associations is the use of diluted urine (collected from our composting latrines) as a substitute for chemical urea fertilizer. In addition to being expensive, chemical urea also has other negative side effects such as destroying soil organisms and decreasing plant nutritional values.

In 2008, 25 farmers volunteered to grow an area of corn in which each stock was fertilized once a week with 40 ml of diluted urine (3 parts water to 1 part urine). The rest of their corn field was fertilized using chemical urea fertilizer. The farmers were paid $20 each (the value of harvest of the urine-fertilized plot) as a risk payment since the result was unknown and in case all of their urine-fertilized corn failed.

The results were astounding! For all 25 farmers, the increase in weight for the urine-fertilized corn was statistically significant. Farmers had a greater corn yield when fertilized with the diluted urine vs. expensive chemical urea fertilizer. Replacing the fertilizer with free and readily available diluted urine provides a savings of $125 per year; a significant boost for farmers who make less than $2 per day.

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