In the old days farming was done manually and much of the burden was left to the farmer.
The harder the farmer worked the more productive he became. It all depended on him and on the tools he possessed to increase his productivity every time. Today technology is being used to assist manual labor in agricultural activities.
Modern irrigation based agriculture, which was introduced to Eritrea with the advent of Italian colonialism, aims to maximize production with the input of minimal resources.
In line with the Government’s stand to boost agricultural activities in the country, farmers have gone through a lot of changes, upgrading their activities with technologies. People take it as an important development with deep experience, passing it from generation to generation.
Mr. Yemane Tewelde from Demas in Sub zone Ghindae has a farm in Ala, near Dekemhare, but wanted to work some land in Demas to have adequate income. He started in 2013 by cultivating 6 hectares of land in an area that had been mountainous. He grows oranges, lemon, tangerine as well as tomato and pepper in summer. When asked how he manages to farm in such an uncomfortable landscape, he said “the effort was massive but the goal counts”.
He shared his belief that if there is “No pain, there is no gain”. Great results are achieved only if you work hard and the land offers its fruits depending on how much sweat one spills, he adds.
He managed to level this amount of land using his own 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. His farm is located adjacent to the major river basin that drains toward Gahtelay. Most the farm he owns is watered through a chain of water canals.
Demas is a mountainous area with abundant streams for most of the months; yet it has not been suitable for agricultural activities. There are around hundred farmers who have been farming within the confines of the mountains.
Conserving soil and water, an activity to which the Government and people of Eritrea all over the country are committed to, plays a vital role in agriculture and in protecting the environment. The soil has to keep its fertility and the water has to be used in an efficient manner. That is what Mr. Yemane Tewelde has done from the beginning of his business startup.
As success is achieved by hard work and struggle against natural challenges, this farmer turned hills into plains, made possible 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. Mr. Yemane said that in the past they used to buy fuel for their water pumps at high price. But today, thanks to the cheap fuel they are getting, the farmer hopes to gain more profits because the cost of production is ever decreasing for him as well as other farmers around the area.
He said that in the recent years one of the problems they have been encountering is the disease infestation that attacks tomato and maize. He urges the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to help them in controlling the disease so that their production could increase.
Fall Army Worm (FAW) infestation that particularly attacks maize is now under control in the area. Awareness of the people in the area has helped control the infestation. Mr. Yemane himself uprooted and burned FAW infected plants and the damage caused due to this infestation is being minimized.
Mr. Yemane, with his own will and effort, changed the place into a fertile agricultural field, while at the same time learning from the experience of veteran farmers in the town. He completed over eight major projects he had planned.
Mr. Yemane also raises cattle that are fed from his own farms. He has around 40 local Arado cattle which he keeps at his backyard. However, he doesn’t want to stay small. His aim is to expand his cattle breeding business.
Investors such as Mr. Yemane create employment opportunities in the wide fields they are engaged in. People are recruited for tasks such as watering plants, leveling farm lands, nurturing the cultivated area, removing weeds and protecting plantations from insects and pests. He employs around ten people within his farms.
Being mountainous, places like Demas are often chosen for rearing animals rather than farming. But Mr. Yemane proved that anything is possible. With the technical and material support they receive from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Land, Water and Environment, the Development and Investment Bank and the Northern Red Sea Administration and the moral support from friends, family and loved ones farmers like Mr. Yemane are leading by example in the struggle to ensure food security and bring about sustainable national development in the country.