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Home-grown vegetables boost health and incomes

Yeshiwork watering her family’s garden.PHOTOS: Plan staff
Yeshiwork watering her family’s garden.

PHOTOS: Plan staff
Habtamu tending his vegetable growing in his backyard.
Habtamu tending his vegetable growing in his backyard.
June 11, 2010

In an urban area of Northern Ethiopia, Plan is helping local people grow vegetables – meaning an improved diet and an improved income.

Over 300 families in tourist town Lalibela are producing a range of fruit and vegetables which they sell at the local market or eat at home.

Plan provided the community members with seeds – and the skills and know-how needed to grow vegetables successfully in the small gardens and patches of land available in the town. Minda Ayele, Plan’s food and nutrition specialist in Lalibela says: “Producing vegetables at household level using the smallest available space can significantly change family diet and improve household incomes”. Crops include Swiss chard, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots and green peppers.

In the past, child nutrition has been a problem in Lalibela town with many children affected by diarrhea.  “Urban agriculture is improving this situation as families are producing enough vitamin-rich vegetables to feed their children,” explains Plan’s health expert in Lalibela, Hailu Birhanu.


A family project

Habtamu Getahun, a father of five says: “Plan taught me how to prepare land for vegetable production and provided me with vegetable seeds to get started. And my wife was given training in making compost”. 

Thirteen year old Yeshiwork likes to work in her family’s garden. She especially enjoys watering their crops. “I support my family with watering our vegetable garden at least twice a day. I enjoy working on the vegetable garden because we harvest vegetables to eat and sell.”

Gelanesh Asres, who also took part in the training, explains how it has made a difference, “My family eats the vegetables I grow. My children particularly love carrots. These vegetables are improving the diet of my family and also bringing me some money. The demand for vegetables is growing here as Lalibela town is a tourist destination and many hotels pay a good price for vegetables. I am also planning to open up more plots to produce more vegetable varieties like onions and beetroot”.

Like Habtamu’s family, Gelanesh gets her husband and children involved, “My husband supports me with weeding and land preparation, and my children do the watering twice a day”.


Spreading the word

The good news is that the idea is spreading. Community members pass on the skills they’ve acquired through the Plan project and their practical experiences to neighbors and other members of their community. “Hopefully, many people will benefit from knowledge about urban agriculture and produce vegetables and fruit for their own family and the local market”, says Habtamu.

Learn more about Plan's work in Ethiopia.