Mohammed Aba Mecha, a 26 years old father of two daughters, migrated to Sudan in search of a better livelihood, as the production from his small plot did not cover expenses for his newly established family. After returning home to Waro Kolobo kebele of Dedo woreda, Jimma zone, Oromia region in Ethiopia with no savings, Mohammed tried to improve his production.

In 2018, video-based extension activities organized by Digital Green started in his village. Mohammed joined the Jarso 1st Development Group in Bito Genji village, which meets regularly to learn about conservation agriculture and farm-related natural resource management practices by viewing and discussing videos on how to apply the practices and their benefits for farm productivity. He was actively engaged in the video dissemination sessions for vermicompost preparation, tree seedling plantation, seedbed preparation, pit preparation, cattle fattening, and other crop management videos with his development group members, and has enthusiastically adopted the recommendations using the steps he had seen acted out in the videos. Mohammed has now fully embraced the video-based approach and taken on a leadership role in his local development group, even training other farmers on his farm.

Mohammed has planted and sold 11,500 tree seedlings for 11,500 ETB (355 USD), and used the proceeds to buy an ox for 9,350 Birr (288 USD) for fattening.

I shared my experience and the benefit I gained from the video disseminations to five youths. They visited all my sites and farming activities. Now they are encouraged and engaged in vermicompost preparation and planting tree seedlings.” Mohammed said.

Today, with higher profits from seedlings, Mohammed is expanding his farming operation by planting 2,500 seedlings on one hectare of land. Mohammed now owns a newly constructed house, a motorbike, and a number of oxen and poultry. In the future, he has plans to expand the application of different agricultural technologies in all of his engagements and is eager to become the best investor in the region, even eyeing to enter the export market.

Digital Green, with the financial support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, implemented the Integrating Natural Resource Management into Agricultural Extension Services in Ethiopia 2017-2019  across 15 woredas in the Oromia and Tigray Regions in Ethiopia to increase smallholder farmers’ adoptions of natural resource management practices. Through the Advancing Conservation, Agriculture and Livelihoods in Oromia project  (2020-2022) and with continued support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Digital Green and the Environment and Coffee Forest Forum (ECFF) will reach 42,000 smallholder farmers, women and youth with the goal of reducing deforestation, forest degradation and biodiversity loss, while improving livelihoods of the forest-dependent smallholder farmers in the two target woredas of the Belete-Gera forest landscape.

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