It is a rainy Wednesday morning and the field workers at Solagrow’s farm in Hidi put down their tools. Rain is not the reason, the work on the test plots continues despite of bad weather. Kelemua Atlaw is one of the field workers that will receive training over the next two hours. An agronomist gathers the group of ten and leads them to a marked spot in the field. He explains the task for today before he demonstrates the right spacing of seeds in front of them.

Kelemua, dressed in a long skirt and hat, watches with confidence. The mother of four has joined several trainings in her four years at Solagrow and she has a background in farming. “I used to rent a plot of land where I grew teff and wheat. It’s easy for me to follow the trainings as the work is similar to what I have done before,” she says. The income from farming, however was not enough to support her family as “the costs of seeds and fertilizer were too high and the yield too low”.

Better diet

After the demonstration, the agronomist hands out a couple of cabbage seeds. The high-quality seeds need the right handling in order to grow to their full potential. Kelemua plants each seed one by one along an invisible straight line. The size of the plant’s root system determines the distance between the seeds, which has to be equal for all of them. “I really prefer working here, as I have more resting days,” she says. Her normal working week finishes after Saturday lunch, giving her the whole Saturday afternoon and Sunday to spend time with the family.

“My husband works as a guard and with our combined income we have enough money to sustain our family,” she explains. Her net income has gradually increased from Br342 to Br700 (ca. €30) a month. More money also allowed her to make changes in her family’s diet. At the headquarters of Solagrow in Hidi, she makes use of the daily vegetable sale and joins in food demonstrations. This week, she learned an easy way on how to prepare her own soymilk. “My family is also happy for me that I have this job,” she says leaving the fields for the night.