Wetenschap - 1 januari 1970

Ethiopian extension workers don’t know what to do with farmers’ knowledge

Ethiopian extension workers don’t know what to do with farmers’ knowledge


According to newly graduated Dr Tesfaye Beshah, techniques to reduce soil
erosion in Ethiopia only work successfully once they have been adjusted to
local conditions by the farmers. He argues that government extension
workers should have more respect for the knowledge and traditions of
farmers.

The Ethiopian ministry of agriculture introduced a new technique to limit
soil erosion in the 1980s. By placing stones either in rows or spread over
a field would reduce the water run-off and the impact of raindrops during
downpours. The farmers saw that this worked but stumbled across a number of
problems, recounts Beshah: rats started nesting under the stones and
working the fields became more difficult. As a result the farmers were
reluctant to adopt the new practice.

Beshah did a field study in the Wello area to the north of the capital
Addis Ababa, in which he discovered that the farmers there did start to use
the method after making several important adjustments. “Every so often they
move the stones a bit. This enables them to spread the fertile soil that
accumulates under the stones over the lowest, often most eroded parts of
their land. At the same time they chase away the rats that have made their
homes under the stones.

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