Rain, the Rains, the Right Rains at the Right Time

In Ethiopia, rainfall is never taken for granted because it is under-stood in precise relation to the food chain. Successful (or failed) harvesting of specific crops, depends on rainfall in just the right amount, beginning and ending at the right times. Imbalance in predictable patterns can mean the difference between life and death and the historical experience of too little too late – or not at all, has been tragically, fatally grim. This scientific understanding is found in indigenous knowledge systems and in the advanced scientific methods of meteorology with a current global focus on climate change, as well as adaptation to that phenomenon. Ethiopia is always on the watch so when Belg made a late showing, Fortune in Belg Behind Schedule, explained that the short rainy season between February and April was a crop production season, also important for the production of animal feed. A fresh milk shortage in May 2015, prompted a closer look behind the scenes and Fortune succinctly headlined the relationship in No Rain, No Grass, No Milk. As a praying nation, we prayed. But the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) also reported that in order to provide feed security, it was providing training in regional states, on how to preserve surplus grass. MoA also distributed hormones to manipulate breeding, birthing and milking; it also constructed six artificial insemination laboratories for cross-breeding to improve milk production. But then, there was also a lag in Kiremt, the main rainy season from June to September-October, attributed to El Niño. This time around, with alarm bells sounding in some areas, Fortune Staff Reporter, was dispatched to Dodota Wereda of Arsi Zone in Oromo Region, where inadequate rainfall had prevented soil preparation and planting of cereals, pulses and root crops. Fortune’s headline Everything but the Rains, which included the suggestion by experts that “the situation could result in sizable production shortfall and a rise in the number of people in need of emergency food assistance.” Our man on the spot found that frost was another threat.  Two issues later, the headline read, $386m Needed for Humanitarian Response, according to the latest humanitarian requirement document released to the public on August 19, 2015.  Fortune will keep you abreast of further developments in the New Year but we hope that the current trend will be broken and official measures effectively applied to avert disaster. Since the animals are an important part of the food equation, among innovative preventive measures covered by Fortune is the initiave of the Oromo Insurance Company, the lone insurer of livestock in the country, using index based livestock insurance, paying insured livestock owners before drought hits and seeing them sustain their animals through two dry seasons.

Published on Sep 07,2015 [ Vol 16 ,No 801]



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