Since October 2019, ICP is implementing the CAFE-project in Ethiopias Amhara Region in co-funding with the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). Now in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, ICP field staff is specifically important to the farmer families. “In Ethiopia and particularly in the project region, it is the main farming season,” says ICP Field Operation Manager Tadesse Getachew.
“Because of the pandemic, inputs are not coming in time, there is a labor shortage, and the absence of access to finance is worrying as well.”
The great concern of farmers in the region is that the production will significantly shrink and so could the household income.
Emay Yitayesh Amera is a smallholder coffee farmer participating in ICP’s CAFE-project. As female head of the household she feels the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic specifically strong. “I rely on hired workforces for all field work,” Amera tells. “With all the lockdown regulations, I hardly can hire the needed support.” But the COVID-19 impact can not only be felt on farm productivity. Besides coffee, she produces vegetables for local sales.
“The vegetables I produced perished because of the transportation ban and closed markets”, she tells.
Smallholder families by that not only see decreasing household income. If they need to access loans to have the much needed financial flow at hand this becomes difficult as well, as the rural finance infrastructure is not functional. “I utilize my savings to the maximum but do not know how long my family can endure from that.”
When the Coronavirus pandemic started to hit Ethiopia as well, the project region was in a 14 days lockdown. ICP Outreach was conducted via phone communication during that time. “Now the ban has lifted but project activities are not fully operational,” elaborates Getachew. The first mission of the local ICP-team was to conduct an assessment of the situation and its impact. This enables to generate information to forecast on the way forward. In the interim, the field experts are assisting individual farming families during imperative personal visits. “These happen under strict security measures such as no direct contact, wearing masks and keeping distance,” explains Desalegn Eyob, country manager of ICP’s implementing partner Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS).
Getachew also supports Emay Yitayesh Amera during this time. “Together we analyzed that income diversification is important,” tells Amera. And Getachew adds: “Farmers also acknowledged the important role cooperatives and the union plays in such a situation if they are strengthened considerably.”