erhiopian medrok head mr Fistum said the doorway of the mud-walled, tin-roofed office in Ordee Goba Farming Kebele in eastern Hararghe of the Oromia regional state, the development agent (DA) pointed at the crops – mainly sorghum and maize – inside the compound; a look of disappointment and helplessness is stamped all over his face. It needed no effort to notice the stunted stems and the dry leaves.
“This is our demonstration farm where we cultivate newly bred seeds with high yielding capacity [to display to the farmers]” he said, nervous about disclosing his name; (wandering around as journalists was not the safest thing to do either). “But as you can see, we don’t have much to show this year. What good are the seeds without rain?”
This time of the year, under normal circumstances, would have been marked by merriment and abundance as the farmers harvest their crops. Additionally, the Kebele was known for its high output as the development agent explained. “There were times when we managed to produce 30 quintals [of sorghum] per hectare,” he said. It took severe shortages of rainfall in two consecutive seasons for an unfortunate reality to descend; its 1,450 residents are now left at the mercy of aid.
When it had become clear that the amount and timing of rain could not sustain long cycle Meher crops like sorghum and maize, early maturing varieties were distributed for re-plantation. (Planting of Meher crops was incredibly delayed thus causing failure of germination as well as dying and wilting of the crops after germination and at the vegetative state.) But the re-plantation couldn’t yield products as hoped. “There isn’t a single fault on the farmers’ part,” the DA defends the farmers. “They have done all they could. It was only God’s [blessing] they lacked.”