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US, Ethiopia Join to Train Women Farmers


This photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, shows the wheat farm near Debre Zeit, in Ethiopia’s Amhara region.

This photo taken Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, shows the wheat farm near Debre Zeit, in Ethiopia’s Amhara region.


The U.S. is awarding $15,000 each to five pairs of U.S. and Ethiopian universities for research and development projects.

One partnership is between the University of Maryland and Debre Birhan University, in Ethiopia. The partners will use the money to train Ethiopian women to grow crops throughout the year. They will teach students in both classrooms and on farms. Their goal is to help Ethiopia fight food insecurity.

Becky Ramsing is an advisor at the University of Maryland. She says she hopes the program will help women in Ethiopia who might not have any other way to get training.

“If you give the woman the resources those resources will directly go to the family. And when women are given added income or are able to raise more food, that directly relates to the children and the education and nutrition of the child.”

Ms. Ramsing says the program will first train teachers and officials at Debre Birhan University. Then, those teachers and officials will teach women useful farming skills, such as how to grow food in small places.

“Some of these women don’t have access to land. How can we do container gardening and vertical gardening, livestocks like small poultry?”

Tsigemariam Bashe is an official of Debre Birhan university. Ms. Bashe says the program aims to do more than teach farming. The larger purpose, she says, is to help women care for themselves and their families.

“Empowering women is empowering the whole population or empowering the society.”

Hailu Terefe also works at Debre Birham. He says in some parts of the country only men are taught how to farm.

“There is cultural differences in Ethiopia. All of the regions do not have the same culture. There are regions that women are not allowed to go for agricultural practices.”

Tsigemariam Bashe hopes the women who are trained will then train other women.

“I hope, I hope in the near future womens in the project becomes the community educator.”

Four other American universities received awards for research and development partnerships. They are Brown, Bowling Green State, Ball State and the University of North Texas Libraries. The U.S. State Department and Department of Education gave the awards, in part, to strengthen the abilities of teachers and school officials in both the U.S. and Ethiopia.

I’m Marsha James.

VOA State Department Correspondent Pam Dockins reported this story from Washington. Christopher Cruise wrote it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

designed v. to plan or make (something) for a specific use or purpose

food insecurity n. to be not certain that one will continue to have food

nutrition n. the process of eating the right kind of food so you can grow properly and be healthy

container n. a large box that goods are placed in so that they can be moved from one place to another on a ship, airplane, train or truck

vertical adj. positioned up and down rather than from side to side; going straight up

poultry n. birds (such as chickens and ducks) that are raised on farms for their eggs or meat

population n. a group of people of a particular kind that live in a place

cultural adj. of or relating to a particular group of people and their habits, beliefs or traditions

region n. a part of a country or the world that is different or separate from other parts in some way

practices n. customs and teachings of a religion or group

What kind of training do small farmers receive in your country? We want to hear from you. Tell us in the comments section.

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