Farmer Inventor Fituma’s Tef Row Planter
Farmer Fituma of Weliso displaying his planter machine
Fituma is a farmer from Weliso, a small town in the Oromiya region of Ethiopia. When he realized that there is a new breakthrough in Tef research which revealed that row planting tef seeds can increase yield four times and saves 25 kg of tef seed per hectare, he was elated. He talked to farmers who experimented and got positive results. Convinced with the research claims, he made up his mind to abandon the broadcasting type of seeding which he like all farmers in Ethiopia was traditionally using. But soon his heart sank when he found out that row planters are unavailable on the market, and how tiring row planting by hand is. It took him the whole day to plant his half hectare field manually.
Fituma is the bold and unyielding type of farmer. He set out to make his own row planter.
Within three weeks, armed with knives, axe, a large local needle (‘wesfe’), an old saw, strings, etc., he carved his planter out of wood and plastic bottles.
The machine was the simplest, cheapest and functional Tef row planter made from the easily available materials like wood and recycled plastic water bottles.
Fituma planter can easily be fitted to the ‘maresha’ or plough, pulled by hand and operated by one farmer.
It does, even if crudely, all the activities required in row planting. It opens furrows, drops seeds, and applies fertilizers, in four rows.
Simplest, cheapest and functional Tef row planter
Fituma’s planter costs 350 birr, as compared to other row planters still in research phase which are said to cost 4000 birr minimum.
Farmers are innovators and can come up with the best solutions themselves. Listening to them, learning from them is really important before any costly and complicated solution to an otherwise simple problem.
By Girma Gebrewold
26 February 2013