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April 04, 2007

Ethiopia : Green gram improving soil fertility, farmers' incomes

Farmers and agricultural professionals in the Southern Wollo Zone of Ethiopia have said green gram,recently introduced in the area, is replacing crops like maize and sorghum as it dramatically increases incomes and soil fertility. It also ripens faster.

Kebede Yimam, an agricultural official, said that 40-hectare cultivated to grow green gram as a pilot project, a yield of 624 quintal (6,240kg) has been produced, generating 374,400 birr ($42,000). He said if sorghum, one of the main agricultural produce in the zone, is cultivated on the same land, farmers would not get additional 252,800 birr ($28,000). Another official said several farmers had doubled and even tripled their incomes by growing green gram, and that there was a big demand for seed.

"I sowed this seed for the first time in July 2006 on a very small plot and harvested one and half quintal (150kg). I sold a quintal for 580 birr ($65). Then I replaced my teff (an Ethiopian grain) plot with this profitable crop. Recently, I have harvested three and half quintal (350kg)," said Shiferaw Hussien. According to him, the most important thing is not the amount of money that he got from the crop, but its positive contribution to soil fertility. Green gram (mung bean, Vigna radiata) is a leguminous nitrogen fixer.

Ethiopian Herald

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