Since November 2020, a civil war is taking place in Tigray (north Ethiopia), where about 75% of the active population are farmers. Here, we present the state of ploughing in Tigray’s war conditions, early in the 2021 rainy season and discuss contextual factors. Early May 2021, around Mekelle, very few croplands have been ploughed, as compared to the situation in previous years, verified on historical Google Earth imagery, even though the 2021 spring rains correspond to average rainfall conditions in most of Tigray. The analysis of True Colour Composite images, produced from Sentinel satellite imagery pertaining to March-May 2021, shows that, unlike plantation farms, the eleven sampled irrigation schemes with smallholder farming are all operational, with an overall increase in irrigated land by 6% as compared to 2019-2020. A partial shift from commercial crops to cereals has taken place, which requires less human presence on the fields, hence less risk for the famers to encounter soldiers and get killed. The same processed Sentinel imagery shows very poor tillage on nine sample areas with rainfed farming in western and NW Tigray (scenes of approx. 6 km x 4 km), but relatively good ploughing progress in the rest of the region with often more land ploughed than in 2020, despite less rainfall in spring. The situation in western Tigray is particular, as there has been ethnic cleansing of the population and often the 2020 rainfed crops even have not been harvested. Many lands have remained unploughed, and irrigation along the Tekeze River has been abandoned. Overall in Tigray, war conditions have made ploughing very challenging. Oxen have been looted and deliberately killed, and farm inputs and farm tools have been destroyed by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers. Furthermore, farmers who want to plough feel vulnerable out in the open; in many places, Eritrean soldiers forbid the Tigrayan farmers to plough. While trying to produce, in any case, the Tigrayan farmers evaluate all risks involved with ploughing and organise lookouts verifying that no soldiers are approaching. However, there is still hope that a large part of the land will be sown timely, in difficult conditions, with crops that require minimal management, and without fertiliser, as the Tigrayan smallholder farming system, and farmer-led irrigation schemes are resilient, thanks to the remarkable ability of self-organisation by the local farming communities.