To meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the world is going to have to ‘act local’. This story is an example of that. It’s about hardships faced by farmers in Sidama, one of Ethiopia’s leading coffee-producing zone, which lies south of the capital, Addis Ababa, and in the country’s Southern Nations, Nationalities and People region.
Farmers and farming systemsin the once extremely fertile midland regionhere are stressed by an increasing human population. A high proportion of children here are malnourished and the farming systems are still more subsistence- than market-oriented. With the rise of Ethiopian markets for cash crops and dairy products, farmers here are specializing in such crops as coffee and chat, which are replacing the region’s traditional food crops like ‘Enset’ (Enset vetricosum).
A modest, unlikely vehicle for farmers here to make ends meet is the pineapple, which was introduced about 50 years ago. Pineapples should do well here, where the warm climate and soils suit the plant. Although pineapples can fruit throughout the year, in Sidama, the peak harvests are from April to May and October to November.
Because pineapple farming is limited to just a few districts in Ethiopia and is grown by just a few producers, the pineapple value chain is underdeveloped in the country. Among constraints faced by pineapple farmers are lack of planting materials, little knowledge of optimal production practices and inadequate marketing system.