New Onions for Higher Yields, Better Health and Sustainable Livelihoods

The irrigated lands along the Tibila channel near Doni in Ethiopia are saturated with chemicals the farmers spray on their onion crops. A new Aidenvironment program with local and international private sector companies will introduce different onion varieties and a new cropping method and drying processes that will dramatically reduce the need for pesticides and extend the marketable life of the harvested crop.

The chemical pesticides the farmers now use get into the soil, the water, and everybody who lives there. Each year the farmers not only incur high fertilizer and pesticide costs, but also have to sell their onions at low prices to local brokers because they are only able to keep the onions in good condition for a few days after harvesting. The new onion varieties can be dried, stored, and sold at the farmers convenience and not when the market is already full and the onions are about to rot. The crop needs less water and is therefore less susceptible to rotting, meaning a dramatic reduction in pesticide use. Combined with changed agricultural practices, this means higher yields from the start and improved soil health in the longer term, benefiting farmers in the coming years as well as the generations to come. New onion storage and drying centers will increase the marketable life of the onions, reducing post-harvest losses of onions and guaranteeing farmers a better price.

The program will be introduced in an area where a RAIN water harvesting program will increase the availability of renewable irrigation water during the dry season without contributing to downstream flooding in the wet season. This is yet another example of integrating RAIN’s program expertise on water resources management with Aidenvironment’s value chain approach to create long-term sustainability for smallholder farmers.

For more information, please contact Maarten Onneweer