I just visited Ethiopia, on a mission to learn about smart development. I’ll be sharing a sampling of my travels here over the next week — and stay tuned for my new one-hour special, “Ethiopia, Guatemala, Hunger, and Hope,” airing on public television across the US this November.
Join me now in this clip at a Farmers Training Center (FTC) in Tigray, in the north of Ethiopia. It takes a proactive government to help a poor country develop — and one reason why Ethiopia is becoming a model for African development is because of its proactive government. The country is divided into 18,000 districts called “kebele,” and each kebele has an FTC. There are about 60,000 government workers serving the FTCs, who coach farmers on climate-smart agriculture and ways to increase their yield.
As with farmers elsewhere in the world, Ethiopia’s farmers are very conservative and change-resistant, and it’s a big challenge to get old-school farmers to embrace modern techniques. They find that rather than merely decreeing a new technique, it’s most effective to convince one farmer to run with a smart idea — and when he prospers, others will want to follow his lead.