Case Story from CA Farmers

Case Studies of CA Farmer, Mr. Lela Ganamo; Humbo District

(Written by Norman Holbruke, Tearfund Canada, October, 2018)

‘Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?’ ….is the viewpoint of Mr. Lela Ganamo a farmer in Humbo District, southern Ethiopia. He estimates he is about 71 years old, but is still eager to learn and provide food security and be a model of livelihoods for their children.There are 6 in Lela’s family, including a wife, 3 adult daughters and 1 son.

In the ‘development sector’ Lela is what we call a ‘spontaneous adopter’….people that are especially appreciated for their ingenuity and because they demonstrate that a technology is replicable by seeing it in the neighbourhood, and through basic instructions of a neighbour, and then put it into practice.


Tearfund Canada’s local partner agency called TDA (the relief and development arm of ‘Word of Life’ denomination) that functions in this hilly, Wolaita Zone of Ethiopia. As part of GAC co-funded project to scale up ‘conservation agriculture’ (CA), TDA has trained over 7,000 farmers to practice CA so they can get better yields (2-3 times conventional farming yields), but also farm in an environmentally sustainable way that builds up the soil.

To reach out and mobilize this many farmers TDA employs local ‘animators’ that live in the local villages. One called Mescle lives near this Lela and has 122 farmers practicing CA in his ward. He told Lela about the impact of other farmers doing CA so Lela tried it from 2017.

When we asked Lela if he’d been to school he replied, “no, but I’m not naïve.” We agree with his assessment as he is growing on his small farm of 1.25 hectares (3 acres) good crops of pigeon peas, corn, peanuts, chili peppers, pumpkin, enset (false banana), papaya, and moringa tree.

Lela tells us “I observed the productivity of other CA farms, and that they had intercropping, and crops lasting into the dry season…so I was keen to imitate that. Yes, CA takes some work up-front of mulching your field well, but then I am rewarded with much better yields, the ability to grow into the dry season, and the few weeds I can pick easily. Look at my soil; even after the rains, it is still moist. I have not had any CA training yet, but I am looking forward to training that TDA will provide this fall, then maybe I can do even better.”

Lela Ganamo standing on his CA plot(photo by Norman Holbruke)


CS, CA farmers, Mrs. Asnakech, Mr. Mamhiru Zemaa nd family,Humbo District

Asnakech (woman at right in pink skirt) was worried about food security for their large family of 7 children, so when Tearfund Canada’s partner TDA offered a chance to learn a new farming technology, she took it. Her husband Mamhiru was skeptical, but did not stop her from going as some of the local men do. She received 2 days of training on issues such as the importance of good spacing of plants, soil fertility and moisture levels, having the ground covered by mulch of dense crops, rotating crops yearly, and doing minimal tillage. Later she had a refresher course to ensure she had learned everything thoroughly.

Asnakech explained to us, “At first I just did a 20 x 30 m. plot, and grew corn mono-cropped. I was amazed because the rains were not good but I got 550 kg harvest, even after picking some to eat fresh. From a similar size plot with conventional farming, we only got 1 bag, about 50 kg! Now we have expanded the size of the CA plot to 100 x 25 m. (2,500 m², or almost 2/3 of an acre) and are growing corn, sorghum, pigeon peas and pumpkin. We haven’t harvested it all as you can see, but the yields will be good”.

Interested to know the family dynamics we asked the husband Mamhiru what he thought of all this. He replied, “I had gone to another ward with some livestock and was farming there. I didn’t think she would get much but her yields were so impressive that I was won over, now myself and the kids help her. We’ve even started mulching another plot away at a distance preparing for the next rains.” Asnakech added on, ‘Before, the maximum we would get was 4 months of food from harvest that lasted us till December. Now within this 1.5 year timeframe we have reduced the hunger gap to just 2 months, and that may further reduce. Now our family tension is gone- we have good harmony; all the family works together, and we will train our children to do this kind of productive CA farming.”


Mrs Asnakech and her families standing on their CA Plot(Photo by Norman Holbruke)