Seed Programs International

Fate (right) and Birhan Ladies Group members.

Fate (right) and Birhan Ladies Group members.

Hi folks,

One year ago, we started this project with gratitude. Gratitude for your support. Gratitude to GlobalGiving for their tremendous support of this Project. Gratitude to Grow East Africa for the truly amazing work they’re accomplishing in collaboration with local leaders in Ethiopia. And gratitude from Wato and Fate who are on the ground with Grow East Africa.

Over the past year, we’ve shared how Grow East Africa has cultivated a new communal garden, increased the expertise of their farmers, and supported women like Fate who have led the way in strengthening their cooperative. Today, we’re glad to share a recent update from Fate.

First, if you’re not familiar with Grow East Africa, they’re a cooperative near Moyale in Ethiopia that prioritizes women’s access to resources like land, training, and tools. Many of the women have been displaced from regions and tribes that have been historically targeted for displacement.

Fate joined Grow East Africa in 2016 and has become an integral part of the Grow East Africa collective and local community. In a recent interview, Fate described the start of her new life with Grow East Africa.

“My name is Mrs. Fate. I am 45 years old, a mother of seven children, member of Mega IDP [Internally Displaced Persons], the chairlady of Birhan Ladies group, and an active contributor to my community.

After our migration from Mega area of Borana Oromia region Ethiopia, we worked on construction sites as daily laborers. We fetched firewood to sell and worked on someone’s farms. Our children did not attend school. Every night, we were worried if we could get our next day’s bread for our families. Since we are farmers, with our free time we individually grew just cabbage next to our settlement site. The district officials, looking at our initiatives, gave us permission to use the space in the compound around their meeting hall to develop the vegetables. And it was the beginning of our new lives.

In 2016, Dr. Yohannes (Grow East Africa Founder) found us working in this compound. He interviewed us and organized us in group of 30s, and gave us the starting funds and different vegetable seeds like: quinoa, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, onions, and pepper to plant. ... When he revisited us in 2017, he again gave us additional funds to start cereals trading as an alternative means of income generation during the off season. The vegetable gardening and cereal trading activities helped some of the families to move from living at the camp in the tent to rental houses. Yes, we were getting enough food for our families and our children attended schools. Grow East Africa also legally registered our group as a small enterprise and we started our own business on vegetables and cereals trade.“

It can be easy to read Fate’s story without hearing the tremendous work it takes to start a new life after being displaced. This work includes establishing a new livelihood to provide for family, managing the psychosocial strain of displacement, acclimating to a new environment, and learning to live in a new community whose critical resources are already stretched thin.

Fate’s an inspiration — she has not only established her own livelihood, she has helped ensure that the other women in her own collective and neighboring collectives continue to grow. Here, Fate summarizes some results from her collective’s work throughout the years:

“The positive changes we experienced since the beginning of the interventions are:

  • We have started sending our children back to school and we too get mental satisfaction and growth in confidence for engaging ourselves on our own vegetables and cereals farming and businesses; 
  • Changes in our diets by feeding our children with different vegetables and highly nutritious grains like: quinoa, teff, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, onions and pepper;
  • We acquired different skills trainings on: marketing and financial management, group by-law and its management, vegetables development and management of its different disorders; 
  • Our social status and standings in the community changed from daily laborer who think of next day bread every night to vegetables and cereals producers and suppliers and now started to think of our future plans and projections on how to maximize our output and income; 
  • We arranged an opportunity of short-term access to credit for our group members to build their financial capabilities…;
  • We (our farm) become a learning center for the farmers and build the capacity...with drip irrigation system, solar technologies, and also learning...from our technician…”

Today, they’re looking into what it would take to scale their production using machinery and creating business networks that will allow them to supply local markets and institutions. Their collective has already become a model for other groups that have been started in the district.

Our partnership with Grow East Africa is only possible because of your support. We would like to extend a special thank you to GlobalGiving for coordinating the Africa Drought and Famine Crisis Relief Fund and awarding Seed Programs International with a supplementary grant for this work. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Grow East Africa in 2020.

From Grow East Africa, and from our team, thank you for making this project possible.

— Team SPI

Fate harvesting carrots.

Fate harvesting carrots.

Birhan Ladies Group member fixing a dripline.

Birhan Ladies Group member fixing a dripline.

Fate (right) and group members with peppers.

Fate (right) and group members with peppers.


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Seed Programs International

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Asheville, NC 28815


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Seed Programs International (SPI)

Seed Programs InternationalSeed Programs International (SPI) is a non-profit, tax exempt, non-governmental humanitarian organization.

We work thorough other humanitarian organizations, church groups, service clubs and individual donors, to provide quality seed to impoverished communities in developing countries enabling them to grow some of their own food. In addition to seed, SPI provides critical seed expertise and experience operating seed based self help programs.”

SPI is operated by individuals with over 50 years seed industry experience plus over 20 years experience in vegetable research and production. We also have 15 years experience operating programs that have successfully shipped seed to over 70 countries on five continents. SPI has shipped enough seed to plant over 1,000,000 vegetable gardens, providing more than 20 kinds of vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals often missing in people’s diets.