That’s a Lot of Potatoes!

Potatoes. Let’s contemplate the solanum tuberosum.

According to the North Carolina Potato Association, spuds are the second most consumed food in the United States. The wonderful tater is a great source of fiber, vitamin C, minerals that prevent cancer and heart disease, and each one provides more than 600 mgs. of potassium.

Americans consume about 142 pounds of this tuber per person. And now Ethiopians may join us in our love for the potato. Ethiopian farmers are growing this nutritious vegetable in large quantities.

Through a Food for the Hungry (FH) program, some Ethiopian farmers harvested an average of 16 metric tons of potatoes this year.

That’s a lot of potatoes. That’s the weight of a large African elephant.  Or the weight of a truck.

It’s also the double the amount these farmers have ever harvested before…and this amount of food has doubled their income. This means, they need less food assistance during a food crisis in their country as more than 2 million Ethiopians continue to live in hunger without consistent access to food.

How did they get all those potatoes?

Through a grant through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), FH showed farmers living in the Amhara region how to grow drought-resistant potatoes. With this improved seed variety, Ethiopian farmers’ crops weathered Ethiopia’s notorious droughts.

FH staff also addressed watering issues. Through improving irrigation channels to get crops watered, the farmers could plant crops a third time each year, increasing their harvests and food supplies.

Through terraced fields, these potatoes are growing strong. No longer drying up from droughts. Or being washed away from torrential rains when droughts suddenly end. Or rotting in improper storage. Ethiopian potato farmers have an upper hand on the problems that used to plague them and destroy their work.

No longer do these farmers have to watch plants destroyed, knowing the ones they love will go hungry. They have planted the spuds and the spuds are multiplying.

Getting Out of Food Insecurity

In 2011, Ethiopians had two horrible events happen at the same time. First, some severe droughts lasted over a period of two years causing crops to fail. This meant there wasn’t food to buy or sell. Second, food prices escalated so that the poor could no longer afford rice or other food items they couldn’t grow themselves. This put them in a food crisis.

To prevent this from happening again, Ethiopians needed crops that could weather droughts. They needed strategies for dealing with massive rains hitting the parched, rock-hard land. FH experts shared this information with them. Empowered them. Now, they’re armed with knowledge to deal better with their environment.

You’re helping these farmers. While you don’t have direct contact, when you partner with us, you’re giving these farmers the tools, skills and seeds they need to get out of a food crisis. If they could thank you, you know they would. So I’ll thank you for them. And ask you to keep partnering with us to keep helping people in need until extreme poverty can be ended…which many of us are hoping will be in our lifetime (2030). It could happen, if we continue to work hard to end poverty together.



About Renee Targos

Renee is a former journalist and editor for national arts and business publications. As a writer for Food for the Hungry, Renee explores and reports on the work and relationships of partners, FH staff and impoverished communities.

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