Farm Mapping Exercise at the WoodCluster Field School in Ethiopia

Farm Mapping student with its supervisor in Chefasine Kebele (©WoodCluster)

One of the three thematic group activities conducted by participants of the 2nd WoodCluster Field School was the farm mapping and analysis, carried out under the supervision of Dr. Fritz Haubold from TU Dresden.  The team of seven was composed of 2 students from Germany (Katharina and Jonas), 2 from Ethiopia (Bonsa and Shibire), one from Uganda (Scovia) and one from Tanzania (Lilian).

The exercise aimed to get insights on the economic and ecological perspectives of the local farmers in Chefasine by classifying the farms in terms of cropping system and seasonal patterns. The altitudes in Chefasine are highly suitable for rainfed farming. All major rainfed crops can be grown, among them cash crops such as coffee and enset, a major staple crop of southern Ethiopia. The most common farming practice in Chefasine is traditional home gardening, more specifically enset-coffee based homestead agroforestry.

Three farmers who are involved in the planting of medicinal plants within Phyto-Wood-Synergies were selected, so that we additionally had the chance of documenting the condition of the medicinal plants around their homesteads. We were able to map their farms in two days of field work. One challenge that the group faced was accessibility of the farms. Mapping involves a great deal of mobility from one corner of the farm to the other. The setup of the farms and arrangement of the crops did not allow for easy movement. This posed a great challenge especially in getting the measurements. In some cases, we were forced to have approximations/estimates. While we were mapping the home garden, the farmers were interviewed by the marketing and inventory groups. This way, we got a whole picture of the home garden system on the basis of three studied farms:

We found that, farmer Birhanu Shafanu planted Maize, Coffee, Enset, Chat, Spinach and Beans on an area of 1.6 ha. There were also some Cordia sp in his homgarden. In Kassa Kamissus 1.5 ha big homegarden we identified Maize, Coffee, Enset, Chat and Banana, along with some Eucalyptus sp, Gravilea robusta, Albizia sp and Cupressus sp. Adanech Girma is growing Maize, Coffee, Enset and Chat in her 1.4 ha big homegarden, along with Cordia africana and Persia Americana.

A feature that we found in common is that in all three homesteads there was a big open space. Adanech­ Girma, one of the farmers, explained to us that it was purposely left for social gatherings such as wedding celebrations, funerals etc. The farmers reported the agricultural centre in Kebele to be their main source of seeds. Some seeds are also saved from the previous season.

We got very constructive feedback after presenting the results of our work to the rest of the field school team.

We followed their advice to improve our presentation to the community in Chefasine the day after. The team suggested that there should be a follow up of the medicinal plants in the home gardens to make the Phyto-Wood-Synergies project a success.

This was a very wonderful team and every member played their part with diligence and enthusiasm. We thank our supervisor and teacher Dr. Fritz Haubold for sharing his wealth of knowledge in farm mapping with friendliness, warmth and patience. We also want to thank the WoodCluster project for preparing this Field School and incorporating group activities in it. It was a good learning experience filled with exposure to a new environment and networking.

By Scovia Akello, Lilian Magafu, Shibire Bekele, Katharina Vöhler, Bonsa Fentale and Jonas Möller


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