Cultivation of the earth is the most important labor which makes farmers very essential members of our community. Taking the importance of farmers into consideration, we would like to introduce a group of friends who are striving to ease the labor of local farmers. This group of friends has done several projects in accomplishing their goal of doing more with less. Because most of them work in different parts of the country, we could not get hold of them but we were able to interview one of the members of the group, Mussie. An aspiring, hardworking, and most of all solution seeker young man. His contribution to farmers, especially small-scale farmers is inarguably essential. His perspectives on agriculture are mind-blowing. Following is an interview with Mussie.
- Thank you for your time! Please tell us about yourself?
My name is Mussie Asmelash. I was born in Saudi Arabia, but then when I turned four I moved back to Asmara with my family. I learned in several schools in Asmara and joined the 21st round of Sawa to do my national service and finish secondary education. When I got back from Sawa I joined Hamelmalo College of Agriculture. Hamelmalo as a college was a great experience because you don’t get to go home much due to its location so you are obliged to devote all your time to studying and experimenting with new products. After finishing college, I was assigned to work as a teacher in a village called Kudo-abuer, Southern region. Being assigned there was so helpful to me because I had the chance to meet with several farmers. Meeting with them and assisting them in action has enabled me to practice the theory I learned. Living with them was an eye-opener. I was lucky to watch them face their problems and solve their problems. In general, that experience has taught me to be a solution seeker, especially for small-scale farmers.
- What inspired you to study horticulture?
Honestly speaking, my hobby focused on technological innovations but when I entered college I was somehow convinced because I did a little research and discovered that there is a term called, digital farming, which incorporates traditional farming with technology. So, I would say this gave me an opportunity to merge my hobby with my interest. Moreover, I have been a true believer in frugal innovation which means the ability to do more with less and create change on a shoestring budget. The main motto is to provide a better solution for small-scale farmers by using fewer resources that are easily available in our country. So taking the theory of frugal innovation into consideration, my passion and mottos have gravitated to find and implement game-changer local frugal innovation. Of course, I shared that passion with my friends, they were completely on board and we became a team. My teammates are called Daniyom Bhamot, Yosief Awealom, and Zerai Tesfai. We have done several projects together and we are still on the way to launching new projects.
- Please enlighten us about some of the projects you have done so far?
Our main project started in 2018 when we decided to manufacture a small and affordable Maize Sheller, using materials around us. It can separate eight to ten quintals per hour. The reason we wanted to make that machine is that maize that is shelled is more expensive and witnessed that small-scale farmers shell the maize manually, which is time-consuming and tiring. Our goal was to save a lot of time and ease the labor of the farming community, especially women.
Our other project was vermicomposting, which means using local worms to increase traditional fertilizers also to improve our soil fertility. Its efficiency is seven times more than the imported worms which are mostly used these days. Small scale farmers cannot apply biogas technology because of its high cost of material and installation process. Therefore we have managed to reduce the cost to a quarter of what it had required. As we talked to more farmers, they explained that they are facing the problem of feeding their chicken because of the high prices of chicken food, so we decided to produce cheap protein chicken feed with limited resources around us.
Our recent project is releasing an E-book. Now that smartphones are widely available and cheaper, we have decided to write a book in Tigrigna mainly focusing on how to produce vegetables. Also, we are going to release it for free.
- It’s good to see that you are practicing what you have always wanted, but how could farmers contact you, or is your products easily available?
That is one of our main problems. We have not yet found the platform to do massive production. Also, we have not done any advertising and we have been busy finishing what we believe is big so we hope we will deliver them all as soon as possible.
- Thank you again, we wish luck!