The model biofarm at Asela, established seven years ago, was one of the earliest Bioeconomy demonstration sites. Asela is located in the Oromia region about 175 kilometers south of Addis Ababa in a mild sub-tropical highland area. Average rainfall is around 1300 millimeters per year, creating a fertile environment. Farmers have traveled to the site for training from around Oromia region and as far as the Benishangul-Gumuz region. The demonstration includes all aspects of IBS including a full animal and composting system. Pigs eat both rabbit dung and agricultural waste and in turn create fertilizer which is free from gas and can be used directly on plants. Cows, ducks, and chickens also add to the sustainable fertilizing cycle on the farm. One unique aspect of the site is an eco-park recreation area developed by BEA on a nearby lake which irrigates the farm through a system of small streams. Local trees are grown on the farm and replanted in the area for rehabilitation. They also introduced coffee growing on the farm which was previously thought to be a poor crop for the area. Trainings for new beneficiaries as well as refresher courses take place seasonally every few months. Though this farm has its own water source, staff say beneficiaries are trained on alternative methods for irrigation if they live in water scarce areas. Before the farm was developed the area was known to be degraded, dirty, and dangerous to travel through according to local farmers. Now the area has been completely rehabilitated as a green and safe area for the community to recreate.
Minda Augichew is a model farmer who has focused on beekeeping as well as his diversified farm. After he received IBS training he has transitioned from traditional methods to modern hives. Where his old hives produced 15 kilograms of honey, his new ones produce around 50 kilograms. He has had some trouble marketing and processing his honey and would like further support in this from BEA however. Minda reported that he understands the importance of family planning on his resources and the environment and is happy with his two children. During his training he learned how to build a pit toilet and the importance of hand washing. He reports that his children always wash their hands now. “Now that I use no chemicals on my farm the environment is cleaner and safer for my children”. Minda’s farm was also selected as a model farm for the government agricultural training so he had the opportunity to train 200 farmers on his methods!
Aklilu Bekele was trained on the biofarm two years ago. He reports he is now using compost instead of buying fertilizer and has five or six vegetables instead of one annual crop. Before improving his farm his family only ate maize and due to poor health they had to visit the clinic often. “My family is better off now. I can provide better clothes and food, my house is improved, and my children can get an education because of my increased income from my farm”. One of the challenges Aklilu mentioned however is the distance to the market which makes his products wilt and decrease in value.
Kuraz Negussieis a female model farmer also trained two years ago. Now that she has improved her farm she has sheep, hens, cattle and a banana plantation in addition to her diversified farm products. Kuraz reports that the main change is that her family is now economically secure. She has even sent her eldest child to medical school in Addis Ababa. Accessing health care was a problem before due to the cost but she learned more about health in the IBS training and now goes to clinics to get more education and preventive care for her family.