Farming in Ethiopia

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We have a friend Tagesse who is a local farmer. When my parents came to visit, we took went to his house for coffee and a tour of his farm. We soon found out Tagesse is a model farmer!


His mother was delighted to have missionaries in her home again as it has literally been decades since the last missionaries came. Her husband (now deceased) served with the previous missionaries in various roles.

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In his backyard / field, is the remains of the barley harvest. In the picture I am sitting in a special variety of thick grass used for grazing their milkcow and 2 oxen.


The people in our area eat lots of these “false banana” plants. They peel back the outer leaves and scrape the insides (see the woman in orange stripes). Then, they mash this in a pit (see the woman in red).

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While we sipped our coffee, we had no idea these women were out preparing this food. It’s a group project, always using several women working together.

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The hole is then covered and sealed with the false banana leaves where it ferments for 3-4 months. The woman in the striped red shirt (bottom left) is standing behind (or in?) one of these. They will make a super dense, chewy “bread” (about 1/2 inch thick) that is hard for the unaccustomed to stomach. It tastes a bit like gym socks to me (if it’s really fresh, it’s not quite so bad). It’s a staple for these people. They can also make a porridge of it, to which is added yogurt and chili powder.

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Along the field were many real banana plants which are bearing bananas right now. We’re convinced these are the best bananas in Africa–short, fat, dense, and a strong flavor.

The huge red banana flower is an amazing sight.

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Of course we quickly found new friends.

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This boy is guarding the many tomato plants from the goat.

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This was the cattle house, cooking house, and Grandma’s sleeping quarters (next to the newborn calf). The fire and the animals keep this warmer than the main house next door.

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