“I used to be thin,” says Kadja Ahmed, looking over the papaya farm she owns with her husband, Ali. “I was always staying home. But since our life is better, I am getting fat and I go out a lot more.”
Several years ago, the Ahmeds lived with their seven sons in a hut too tiny to accommodate them all. They had only one ox. And they could grow enough sorghum to feed themselves for only three months out of the year.
After ORDA intervened with irrigation and agricultural training. Kadja and her husband began growing high-market value crops such as tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, onion, papaya and ground nuts. With the assistance of ORDA and the other villagers, they planted 15,000 eucalyptus trees, which will create income for them in three years.
Having access to water through irrigation allows the Ahmeds to have multiple harvests per year. Their family is well nourished and there is surplus to sell in the local market to generate income. And they’ve been able to buy four plowing oxen and ten goats.
They’ve also diversified their investments—Ali bought Kadja a gold necklace, watch and earrings, which she wears to weddings, while visiting friends and relatives and on holidays. She hopes to buy more jewelry, which will appreciate in value and they can sell for a profit in the future.
Kadja, who now works in the field and takes the yield to market three days a week, says that she is very happy. “My work is benefiting my family.” Their oldest three sons are in school, and they feel hope for the future of their children because of the legacy they can now leave them.
What made the lasting difference, they say, is the educational support they received from ORDA.
“We have learned so much from ORDA,” Kadja says. “Now there is no end to how much we can accomplish for ourselves, our children and our village.”
When ORDA visited Kadja again in 2008, she had greatly expanded her business and now has the 2nd highest income of any peanut farmer in Bati.
“My husband and I do the work together,” explained Kadja. “While my husband is leading the peasant association, I take care of the farming.”
In 2007, Kadja cultivated .75 hectare of land and sold her peanut harvest for 2,500 birr ($260 USD). With that money she bought 2 oxen, which enabled her to expand her farm. This year, she cultivated 1.5 hectares of peanuts, which she sold for 14,000 birr ($1,455 USD). She also expanded her farm to grow fruit, which she sold for an additional 6,500 birr ($670 USD).
“With this year’s income, I want to buy a grinding mill,” Kadja said. “I want to buy a camel, sorghum, and I want to buy more gold jewelry to wear to festivals. My husband applied for his trade license, which helped our business. But I control the money,” she added with a smile.
“Because of our success, I am extremely happy, and I have dreams for the future,” Kadja said. “I am proud of what I have done, but I want to achieve more. I will assist those who are not able to do what I have done. I will teach them how to farm.”
“This all happened because of ORDA. Before ORDA, we did not have all these business ideas and resources.”