Drought farmers grow fruit by burying clay pots with water

Drought farmers grow fruit by burying clay pots with water

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By Anastasia Gubin

Villagers in the dry, mountainous area ofAtebes, in the north ofEthiopiaThey had never tasted an apple, and did not even know its taste, until researcher Tsegay Wolde-Georgis introduced a particular cultivation program, irrigating them with clay pots buried with water.

When they harvested their first fruit in February 2011, everyone “commented about its smell, its tenderness; They finally met her! ”Said Wolde, according to theArctic and Alpine Research Institute (INSTAAR), belonging to the University of Colorado Boulder, when publishing their experience this year.

"They had never seen or tasted apples before that day."said Wolde, referring to the thousands of villagers in Atebes, who had to transfer the water for daily use to their homes from five kilometers away.

According to the village elders, deforestation and erosion led to the formation of deep gullies in the land, and the streams that had been perennial in the past 30 years ago some dried up and others turned into single-season water.

Tsegay Wolde identified during her first trip to the region in 2010 that residents had a tradition of making clay pots. So he took advantage of this method to grow fruit trees and vegetables.

Shelly Sommer, INSTAAR information director explained toThe Epoch Times the steps Wolde took to irrigate the apple trees.

“The clay jars were buried in the ground an inch or so from the plant, with their mouth [open] a little above the surface. So an apple tree or two were planted near the pot. The clay jug was filled with water, which slowly seeps out and into the ground, through its clay walls, ”he explained.

“It is a very efficient process, as the water slowly reaches the roots of the tree, and very little escapes through evaporation. The jugs can be refilled through the open mouth from time to time, ”he added.

Regarding clay pots, Shelly Sommer said they are made unglazed. These are storage jars that are traditionally made in that region of Ethiopia to retain water or grain. (Image gallery)

"They have a more or less spherical shape, with a flattened lower part and a narrow mouth and neck approximately half the diameter of the body," said the INSTAAR representative.

Wolde-Georgis did the work at Atebes as part of INSTAAR's Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB) program. The project works with the donation of Global Giving.

“The goal of the clay pot project is to enhance the community's resilience to climate-related hazards through demonstration and capacity building. So far, the project has led not only to the cultivation of high-value fruits and vegetables, but also to erosion control and improved water supply, ”Sommer noted.

About the start-up in Atebes, he explained that it is a town of about 4,000 inhabitants, and when Wolde met with community leaders, farmers, and students, he indicated that the initial interest would focus more than anything on attracting Water. For this they chose a pilot site.

In the summer of 2010, the project started with 300 apple trees planted by farmers and students, who were on vacation.

After receiving joint training, seven volunteers became the trainers, and learned how to plant and care for the seedlings.

After mixing soil and compost from animal manure, they planted the trees, buried the clay pots in the ground and filled them with water, while the trees were planted around them in the soil and compost mixture.

"The water-saving capacity of the clay pots is so effective that almost all of the trees came back to life through the dry season," explained Sommer.

To improve the water supply, the project also introduced various harvesting systems collecting rainwater, strengthening the water table, and controlling erosion.

Between them were built dams built into the ground in streams of water captured by slow runoff, then allowing it to seep. A water collection well was created, and a rainwater collection system with a capacity of 20,000 liters was installed as a demonstration.

The farmers formed a committee to manage the water distribution, and the students took it upon themselves to water the plants at the pilot site.

The project is serving as a demonstration for other communities in the area, so a graduate student from the Institute of Climate and Society, Makelle University, in Tigray, Ethiopia, will present a master's thesis on the use of clay pots. for project-based irrigation.

With a limited budget, today about 1,400 apple trees are planted in the village, and some of the dwarf apple varieties are already bearing fruit.

The homes of Atebes are feeding on vegetables that grew using the clay pot method and erosion control could provide the region with a potential commercial crop, INSTAAR highlighted.

Streams that dried up in late December in recent years now got water until late May.

The Epoch Times



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