Telecho, Ethiopia: Rainfed farming community

1. Why?

The main purpose of this field trial was to trial the CSAR as a group of ABC members representing farmers (Kanya Duchita and Mathana Aphaimool, practitioners (Aadhi Naryanan and Shimelis Tegegn, representative from MELCA) and scientists (Jamila Haider).

Telecho community would like to continue to improve to build their resilience using agricultural biodiversity. In the 1990s they lost many of their seed varieties which have been restored through the support of MELCA. There used to be 19 varieties, which was reduced to only 5, but now after MELCA’s intervention is back up to 12.

2. Community Representation & Who

The assessment was done in a remote part of Telecho village, reachable only by foot. There was a small cluster of houses consisting of two extended families. The women of the household participated along with the male head of household. A number of children were also involved in the cooking and assessment process.

3. Narrative


Kanya Duchita from Earthnet Foundation Thailand makes Kitabread in Telecho, Ethiopia.

As a narrative approach we cooked traditional foods with the household members. Through this approach we learnt a lot about the diverse uses of the varieties of the crops they grew. Certain varieties of barley were used only for roasting for example because it had a nuttier taste (Butji variety), and a black barley variety (Garbu Guracka) for beer. Certain varieties of wheat (Bonde) are used especially for their husk which plays an important role in the thatching of roofs. A certain wheat variety called Ejersa is used to make Kinche (a simple crushed wheat porridge) because when ground coarsely it comes out even and it has a very good slightly spicy taste!

In order to make one of their traditional dishes they use butter or ghee – but the

ghee they buy at the market is a problem because it is high in saturated fat and they say it is causing people health problems.


The farmers we visited had a high level of crop and livestock diversity. The women said what makes them strong is that they do not have to buy water or firewood, they have their own milk and grains as well as fodder. They are dependent on no one. The men had slightly different ideas of what made them strong over time: a consistent climate and weather, they don’t have to buy much from the market and even youngsters have good respect for elders. However, land distribution is a problem: young people no longer getting land because it needs to be divided between each generation and with population growth there is not much left to divide. Therefore when asked about what they wished for their children they replied that they want their children to go to towns, where they should be educated and do what they want to do. This insight resulted in an important exchange between Kanya and Mathana with the Ethiopian farmers, who shared their experience on returning to their land to become farmers after living in the cities for a while and the reasons why. Kanya and Mathana are both farmers who returned to their communities after completing their education and working in the city for a number of years. They now run their own farms and are members of organisations that have approx. 30 young people involved in organic agriculture.

4. Attributes

As a group, we discussed the attributes, or indicators, that we had heard from the farmers describing resilience (Table 1). Everyone felt that the indicators had to come from within the communities, that indicators from the outside would not be accepted.
Table 1. Identified attributes important for resilience in Telecho, Ethiopia

Dreams for Future Bio-diversity Knowledge and Innovation Governance and Social equity Livelihood and wellbeing Self-sufficiency
Indicators Do not want children to be farming Food security: Rely on own stock Adaptation to wheat rust shock Women farm, rear animals, cook, clean house, harvest, but they don’t have time to eat Health: strong from own grains We have our own milk and grains
High use of different varieties Climate risk Land rights and tenure: Problems with distribution To be happy We do not need to buy water or fodder
Seed bank Have been experimenting with different crops (Apple, corn) Don’t need money to buy seeds, fodder and other products from elsewhere
High knowledge and use of different varieties Learning by doing and experiential learning Diversity of uses for enjoyment and wellbeing (e.g. roofs)

These indicators were based on the narratives we heard whilst cooking and were then compared with the Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes (SEPLs) indicators approach for assessing resilience. In addition to the categories defined by the SEPLs indicators, the group decided to add two categories: Dreams for the Future and Self-Sufficiency, whereas no indicators for the SEPLs category of Landscape/seascape diversity and ecosystem protection were identified from the community narratives. The ‘Dreams for the Future’ category was devised by the abc members based on the farmers desire that they do not want their children to remain in farming. This could be reframed more positively, for example: ‘opportunities for children to live in the city’ or ‘education for children to generate opportunities to engage in diverse livelihood opportunities.’ Table 1 is an entry point for more in‐depth discussion with Telecho community.

5. Next steps

MELCA will return to Telecho to build off the indicators that were initially identified to decide on future steps. One of those being how to entice more young people to stay on the land and in communities.

6. Resources to share

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