Environmental Rehabilitation: Planting trees to climb out of poverty
Ato Musa Muche (40) has lived his entire life in Angtok kebele, Dibate Woreda, a village that is defined by poverty. As a father of ten children, Ato Musa knows this poverty very well. Through his subsistence farming, he has been unable to produce enough food to adequately feed his family and pay for the education of his six school-aged children.
Ato Musa’s situation took a turn early in 2011 he was selected by the BSG FSEG project for Natural Resource Management training. Following the training, he received multipurpose tree seeds and technical support on planting and seedling care. Embracing his entrepreneurial spirit, Ato Musa immersed himself in seedling production on his small plot of land.
Two years later, his hard work began yielding fruit. In 2013, he collected 25,000 birr ($1,389 CAD) from the sale of seedlings alone. The supplementary income allowed him to purchase grain for food production, new clothes for his family, and covered school fees for six of his children. Finding himself with a surplus of cash for the first time in his life, Ato Musa was also able to pay for much needed renovations of his home. The Muche family now resides in an extended house with a new corrugated roof, a new door and windows, and freshly plastered cement walls.
Ato Musa’s success caught the attention of the project officers and was nominated as a model farmer in his village. The BSG FSEG project staff met with him on his plantation, as he tended the woodlot. In forecasting his household cash flow he explained, “I now have more than 60,000 Eucalyptus trees on this plot. I can sell them for 35-40 birr ($2 CAD) each at farm gate price, which gives me the potential earnings of 2 million birr ($111,111 CAD) in the year to come! I can’t stop imagining all the things my wife and I could do with this income.”
The high demand for wood for fuel and construction in the nearby towns makes it very likely that Ato Musa will sell all 60,000 of his trees if he decides to. He has plans to scale up his farm, continue planting trees and producing food for his family; and if this income is secured over the next five years he has big dreams of opening his own small hotel and restaurant in Dibate town. Through hard work and determination, and through the support of this project, Ato Musa has lifted his family out of the poverty that has determined his life for 40 years.
“The BSG FSEG project is supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) Canada, and implemented in collaboration with the Benishangul Gumuz Regional State and a Consortium of seven non-governmental organizations”.