Locally, they are known as the Kremt or the long, heavy rains. And right now, they are preventing our team from visiting Gelan Idero as planned!
Spanning June to the end of August, the Kremt brings much-needed water for crop production and cultivation across Ethiopia, but also many challenges to village life.
For one, transportation grinds to a halt because of the muddy, impassable road conditions. And when gaining access to the nearest markets north of Gelan Idero means crossing the Akaki River, which has neither bridge nor crossing points, villagers need to be resourceful and tenacious!
It might sound like a great adventure, but to villagers like Ato Lesha, navigating flooded pathways and rivers for hours while balancing produce for sale is no easy task. Still, because the price of grain rises in the rainy season, many farmers bear the hardship to take advantage of the higher profits that can be made at this time. This means travelling to markets to sell the grain no matter what the weather, and that’s just what Ato and others like him have been doing.
This season, flooding has washed away the one road with a culvert that crosses the Akaki River, which flows through Addis Ababa and surrounding sub-cities. “There is a great problem of access to markets because of the bad road conditions. Villagers who have businesses in these towns need to wait for a dry day to cross the river safely,” said Ato. The banks of the Akaki River often burst, flooding surrounding communities during Kremt rains.
Still, despite road closures, villagers from Gelan Idero – desperate to get to Addis Ababa – simply take off their trousers and walk across the raging river to get to the other side!
“Sometimes when it rains after midday, villagers who have gone to town in the morning are forced to spend the night either with relatives or at a small hotel away from home,” says Ato. The extra expense eats into the profits, but the net-net is still a positive one.
Like farmers everywhere, Gelan Idero’s persevere despite what Mother Nature hands out. As usual, this year they began to plough their land three or four weeks after consistent rainfall.
Most of the farmers who grow teff (a highly-nutritious grain similar to millet and quinoa used to make the local staple, “injera”) have already sown their seeds, while farmers who grow other grains such as wheat and beans are just now planting.
For Ato, he is ahead of the game – he sowed teff, wheat and chickpea seeds three weeks ago and is now clearing weeds growing with his crops, in anticipation of a good harvest this year.
Please leave your good wishes for a healthy harvest for Ato and the rest of the Gelan Idero farmers in the comments below!