In the old days agricultural endeavor was manually oriented and much of the burden was left to a farmer. The harder the farmer worked the more productive he became. It all depended on him and on the tools he possessed to double the production every time. But today technology is being used as a major assisting hand in agricultural activity.
Modern irrigation based agriculture, which was introduced to Eritrea with the emergence of the Italians, aims to maximize production with the input of minimal resources.
In line with the government’s support to boost agricultural activities in the country, farmers also have gone through a lot of charges, treating themselves with modernity and upgrading their activities with technologies. It is a basic fact that Eritrean society has gone a long journey in agriculture. People take it as an important development with deep experience, passing it from generation to generation.
Mr. Daniel Hagos (53) from Demas in Sub zone of Ghindae, started cultivating 20 hectare of land a decade ago (earlier used to be mountainous landscape) where he grows 4000 orange, lemon, tangerine permanent trees as well as tomato and pepper in summer times. When asked how he manages to farm in such an uncomfortable landscape, the workaholic farmer replied “the effort had to be titanic but the goal counts”. He is a man with a philosophy of “No pain, no gain”. Great results are achieved only by effort and Mr. Daniel managed to level this amount of land using his personally owned tractors and excavators, creating 50 meters of bench terraces from the mountains and hills and properly modifying the river sides to get advantage of the underground water to his farm lands.
Demas is a mountainous and hilly area with abundant streams for most of the months; yet it has been less comfortable for conducting agricultural activities. The town has some one hundred farmers who have been farming within the confines of the mountains.
The vital step to achieve your goal in agriculture is conserving soil and water; the priorities of the policies of the government. The soil has to keep its richness and the water has to be used in an efficient manner. That is what this farmer has done.
As success is achieved by hard work and fighting with natural challenges, this farmer turned hills into plains, enabled vegetation in rocky area and created one of the ultimate social values upon people. The landscape required huge financial and human resources to get to its current status and shape.
Energy, as in other activities, is also imminent in agriculture. To back up his efforts, Mr. Daniel replaced his oil-based source of energy with renewable source of energy that is solar powered. Introducing this type of technology into agriculture has enabled farmers to do their farming activities with more ease. Even though introducing this means of energy requires sound investment and technical know-how for its operation, it still is accessible and affordable. The farmer recommends farmers should use the same procedures for their activities. Mr. Daniel solved the water shortage he faced back in the days by introducing 30 solar power panels and activated the flow of sustainable water supply into the fields. The benefits from using renewable source of energy such as solar enables farmers to stop using oil for their generators that resulted in avoiding both air and noise pollution and in minimizing cost. Introducing renewable source of energy like solar or wind in the agriculture sector will be a major relief for farmers which will have a positive impact on the economy. Using this means is not a new phenomenon but sustaining it would be an important lesson for farmers. It boosts efficiency and enhances productivity in a remarkable way. Integrating technology with agriculture is a sign of reaping more production.
Mr. Daniel aims to use the solar energy any time within the 24 hours. Currently, he is only using it in the day time as the solar panels do not have power saving batteries or no water tanks that can reserve pumped water to use whenever he needs. The early fifties relentless farmer also uses his efforts in constructing road ways that lead to the farm lands with his machineries.
Mr. Daniel with his own will and effort changed the place into a fertile agricultural field, while, gaining experience from senior farmers in the town he achieved over eight major projects he had planned in previous years. Impossible is just a word for such farmers. All they do is dare to do. They aim to be productive cultivators of present with the long sight to the future. When struggle with Mother Nature is even out of control, still a farmer’s role in making and restructuring landscapes is vital when talking about the quantity of yield production. Commitment to what one aims and believes surely pays off as it changes life and lifestyles of people.
Calculation wise experts in the Ministry Of Land, Water and Environment indicate that one solar panel installed in the field is able to generate 305 watt. This means the 30 solar panels available have the performance of generating 9.1 kilo watt of energy to power up 5.5 kilo watt water pump. Later, these pumps can propel 25 meter cube (25 liters) per hour (6.9 liters per second) of water to an elevation of 80 meters. The plan of the farmer is to build high elevated water reservoirs while at present he is feeding the farm directly from the generators. Such attempt avoids air pollution caused by fuel generators, thus replacing the energy source was all positive and productive.
Moreover, this man is engaged in dairy production with around 30 Holstein cattle he owns in his backyard. Doing so, it is a must for him to grow green plants for animal feed. When investors such as Mr. Daniel invest their cash in the fields, they also create an opportunity for labor division in the wide fields they are in charge of. People are recruited for separated tasks such as: watering plants, structuring farm lands, nurturing and cultivating the cultivated area, removing weeds, protecting plantations from insects and pest and further tasks.
While answering why he particularly chose to cultivate the mountainous area when he still could have done it in other plain areas, Daniel, told us that every farmer chooses a land for a reason and his was based on pertinent researches. He said he knew that the agricultural estate area had a railway road and that he eventually hopes to turn it into an attractive site, integrating the farm and the rail road for future agro-tourism.
The farmer highly reminds citizens to be inspired to invest within their country rather than establishing companies across borders; so future generations could benefit from homegrown resources.
Areas such as Demas are mountainous, people would never prefer them for farming but for livestock herding. However, Mr. Daniel proved previous conventions wrong and is ultimately growing worth answering market demands. The moral and material support for this farmer, as well as motivating farmers, is provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry Of Land, Water and Environment, The Development and Investment Bank and the Northern Red Sea Administration. Friends, family and loved ones prove themselves extremely helpful too. Mr. Daniel is optimistic for further support of canals and water tanks directing to preserve his journey with top gear.
Similar cases like Mr. Daniel are living examples of sustainable national development. They are gradually growing in number in various sectors becoming major factors to ensure food security in the country.