ADDIS ABABA (AlertNet) – In the sprawling estate of Gurara on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, women farmers are busy working on a two-hectare plot where they grow fruit and vegetables.
The piece of land allocated to the Gurara Women’s Association by the government is a source of income for some 200 city dwellers.
A recent report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which draws on case studies from 31 African countries, shows that horticulture in urban areas and surrounding land is a source of food and income for millions of African city dwellers.
Yet it also points out that market gardening has grown with little official recognition, regulation or support from governments and local authorities. As a result, its practitioners often resort to using large quantities of chemicals like pesticides and polluted water to maximize their returns.
“The only water I can use for irrigation is the raw sewage from Nairobi River. Though I usually get skin irritation after handling it, I must keep on doing this because it is what feeds my family,” says Gideon Liselo, a father of four and a city farmer in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
International Journalists led by Biovision Foundation visited Bioeconomy Africa from May 7th up to May 12th 2012 in Ethiopia. The topic of the journey is “Courses of Action Against Hunger at the Horn of Africa” Biovision and its longstanding partner organization BEA – BioEconomy Africa – are looking forward to highlight to the participants of the media trip to Ethiopia these courses of actions drawing on concrete examples from development projects in both the rural and urban region. The complex backgrounds to the recurrent hunger crises at the Horn of Africa are illustrated at each location together with competent experts from the region.
Bioeconomy Africa(BEA) is an International (Africa wide) secular, non-profit, non-governmental organization that has, in the last 30 years, gradually put together an Integrated Bioeconomy System(IBS) that begins with training subsistence farmers during short intensive periods on one of several IBS biofarms now distributed across the country in different agro-ecological zones. The key to the IBS system is to re-cycle as much energy as possible, in ecologically friendly ways, whilst minimizing external inputs in the form of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. On-biofarm training of farmers increase their skills and knowledge base, and they return home to achieve remarkable increases in crop yields, and also committed to sharing their experience by each training 10 more farmers within their local communities. To date 30,000 farmers have been trained directly and IBS skills have therefore now spread to up to 300,000 families across the continent.
The IBS system is an environmentally sustainable, economically feasible, simple and pro-poor holistic farming and environmental health improvement system. Its key concept is to recycle as much biomass and energy as possible in ecologically friendly ways and to optimize agricultural outputs while minimizing external inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers. As a manifestation to this principle, the Integrated Biofarm Centre (IBC), a system and sub-system based sustainable agricultural and natural resource management model first emerged in 1995 on the outskirts of Addis Ababa and has since been established in other cities and villages of Ethiopia as well as three other African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Côte D’Ivoire.