Guta, Tucho, and Gedefa of the Education For Development Association staff take me to Laku Igu village to visit the farm of Teshome, one of the individuals being trained and assisted by the EFDA. The farm illustrates the diversity of farming activities employed in Ethiopia’s highlands. I wade through knee-high potato plots to see Teshome’s traditional bee hives, clay hives that look like large water jugs, and top bar hives. These hives are mounted on stands under a covered shed near his house. The covering protects the hives from the heat of the dry season sun in this land close to the equator. Teshome also keeps top bar hives in trees and modern Zander hives on high platforms that he proudly shows me in today’s photo. These hives are elevated to protect them from ants, Ethiopia’s principal bee hive pest, and other animal raiders. Elevating bee hives also protects them from grass fires. Surrounding the bee hives are gardens, orchards, and pastures with cattle. The EFDA introduced apples to the Ethiopian highlands and taught Teshome how to care for the new addition to the agricultural economy. Teshome grafts cultivated apple stocks and produces apple trees for himself and to sell to other farmers. He learned to prune fruit trees, and care for the trees that are thriving on the porous volcanic soil amended with organic matter from the farm. Family members turn the soil with steel-tipped plows pulled by teams of two oxen. The EFDA trained a blacksmith in the village who supplies steel tools to the area farmers.
Teshome invites us into his house for a lunch of potatoes and Lage coffee from the Abe Dongoro district. Coffee was discovered in Ethiopia, and the rich Lage is not yet available anywhere else in the world. I am delighted to have the experienced Teshome as a member of my beekeeper training group at Shambu. In the training sessions, he welcomes suggestions for improving the honey bee stocks through selective breeding.