Across the globe, food culture and culinary diversity are important ways people connect and even form identities. In Ethiopia, injera- a nutritious, soft, spongy, pancake-like bread- is a national dish that forms an important part of the country’s cultural heritage. It is prepared using Teff flour, a gluten-free flour threshed from the Teff plant that is native to Ethiopia.
In Adama, Central Ethiopia, 36-year-old Yeshiber Tilahum and his family cannot hide their joy as they enjoy a meal of injera and lentils. It is a religious holiday which means that it is a day to take a break from the busy farming activities during this planting season. For over 11 years, Yeshiber has farmed Teff on his 1.25-hectare piece of land. However, during this season, his wife -25-year-old Wogayehu Fikre - has adopted an innovation that could potentially improve Teff yields while at the same time significantly reducing their cost of production. The innovation is known as vermicomposting, a scientific method of making organic compost using earthworms, white worms, and red wiggers.
On 9-10 March 2021, Wogayehu attended a training facilitated by 2SCALE on vermicompost production. After learning about the benefits of this organic compost, she then trained her husband and together they started producing compost in their backyard. In just three months, this family produced 800 kilograms of compost!
After the training by Kesem Union and 2SCALE, I learnt about the benefits of using vermicompost to our land and crops. It contains essential nutrients required by the soil and this is an added benefit for us as farmers since we will harvest quality produce. After sharing this information with my husband, he immediately constructed a vermicomposting bin and shade for us to start producing the compost.
In a single planting season, Yeshiber and his wife purchase 250 kilograms of fertilizer at an average cost of 9,100 birr ($201). By using vermicompost, this cost has been reduced by half! According to Yeshiber, some of the amount saved will be used to purchase teff seeds while they will save the rest for household use. He adds,