Experiment FindingsPDF Available


262 agricultural plots were sampled in August 2022 by a team of geographers in six Tigray districts with contrasting biophysical characteristics. 15% of the observed agricultural plots were fallowed. Cereals had been planted on three-quarters of all the parcels. 71% of the tef lands were in bad condition, while 76% of the wheat and barley fields were in good or medium condition. Spring rains were not good and there was little opportunity for growing maize, sorghum or millet. Only one quarter of all planted crops had received fertilizer, commonly in insufficient amounts. For the 2022 rainfed cropping season, less than 20% of the required fertilizer reached Tigray. Though the main rainy season was generally good, shortage of fertilizer led to poor crop stands. Improper use of Potassium fertilizer led to crop poisoning (root burn). Overall, the crop stands were slightly better compared to those of the catastrophic year 2021, and there was less fallowing. On some lands, planting was delayed in the hope of receiving fertilizer; such fields were then sown with the "latest possible" crops (tef, grasspea, chickpea).
Crop status in Tigray (north Ethiopia) in August 2022
Tesfaalem Ghebreyohannes1, Hailemariam Meaza1, Zbelo Tesfamariam1, Emnet Negash2,3, Jan Nyssen1,2,*
1 Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
2 Department of Geography, Ghent University, Belgium
3 Institute of Climate and Society, Mekelle University, Ethiopia
* Corresponding author: jan.nyssen@ugent.be; 0032 9 264 46 23
262 agricultural plots were sampled in August 2022 by a team of
geographers in six Tigray districts with contrasting biophysical
15% of the observed agricultural plots were fallowed
Cereals had been planted on three-quarters of all the parcels
71% of the tef lands were in bad condition, while 76% of the
wheat and barley fields were in good or medium condition
Spring rains were not good and there was little opportunity for
growing maize, sorghum or millet
Only one quarter of all planted crops had received fertilizer,
commonly in insufficient amounts
For the 2022 rainfed cropping season, less than 20% of the
required fertilizer reached Tigray
Though the main rainy season was generally good, shortage of fertilizer led to poor crop stands
Improper use of Potassium fertilizer led to crop poisoning (root burn)
Overall, the crop stands were slightly better compared to those of the catastrophic year 2021, and
there was less fallowing
On some lands, planting was delayed in the hope of receiving fertilizer; such fields were then sown
with the “latest possible” crops (tef, grasspea, chickpea)
Since late 2020, one of the worst wars has been raging in Tigray, Ethiopia's northernmost region. A
humanitarian tragedy has been caused by the fighting (Dedefo Bedaso 2021; Annys et al. 2021). Intense
fighting occurred throughout the whole region, and looting and damage were rampant. Farmers were
harvesting their crops in the middle of a desert locust infestation when the conflict began in late 2020. To
record war impacts, commonly, direct expenses or losses at a particular period are quantified (Lindgren
2004). Post-conflict damage assessments typically concentrate on losses to businesses, services,
Introduction 1
Methods 3
Descriptive statistics 4
Graphical representation 6
Narrative report 10
Photos 12
Potassium fertilizer 22
Further analysis 23
References 24
Tesfaalem Ghebreyohannes, Hailemariam Meaza, Zbelo Tesfamariam,
Emnet Negash, Nyssen, J., 2022. Crop status in Tigray (north Ethiopia)
in August 2022. Mekelle University & Ghent University, 25 p.
infrastructure, and facilities in cities, even though the primary source of income in developing countries
is the agricultural sector. Even when agricultural evaluations are done, they mostly focus on crop losses
and ignore how wars affect land management. For instance, farmers may fail to prepare their land for the
upcoming growing season as a result of warfare.
In Tigray's small-scale family farms, which use a permanent farming system based on cereals, oxen are
utilized for traction (Westphal 1975). Crop agriculture has been practiced in Tigray for at least three
thousand years (D’Andrea 2008; Blond et al. 2018), allowing for the gradual improvement of the
agricultural system, including considerable farmers' understanding of the procedures involved in seed
selection and of land suitability (Fetien Abay et al. 2008). The indigenous knowledge (sensu Bruchac 2018)
also includes a broad vocabulary for different soil types (Nyssen et al. 2019), and the capacity to interpret
the rainy season when selecting the crop to be sown (Frankl et al. 2013).
A significant degree of equality in the extent of landholdings has resulted from the strengthening of the
egalitarian land tenure system during the 1980s (Hendrie 1999). In the study region, a typical household
uses two or three farmland pieces totalling less than a hectare. The ownership and management of
grasslands, rangelands, and woodlands are communal (Nyssen et al. 2008).
Rainfed crops grown in the study area include wheat, barley, sorghum, maize, tef, finger millet, horse
beans, field peas, lentil, grasspea, chickpea, fenugreek, linseed, niger seed and potatoes (Frankl et al.
2013; Nyssen et al. 2008).
In the first half of 2021, armed forces of the Ethiopian government and from Eritrea as well as from the
neighboring Amhara region were engaged in warfare against the forces of Tigray’s regional government;
in the second half of the year, warfare was essentially outside of Tigray, more to the south, while Tigray
itself was submitted to a blockade with all telecommunication and lifelines to the outside world cut (Pellet
2021; Gayim 2021; Ramos 2021), a blockade that continued into 2022. The near-absence of economic
activities, combined with limited food stocks and restricted humanitarian access resulted in 70% of the
population experiencing starvation (sensu Stratton et al. 2003), i.e. high levels of acute food insecurity
and excess mortality (Plaut 2021; Istratii 2021; Teklehaymanot G Weldemichel 2021; Oxford Analytica
2021; Devi 2021; Müller and Read 2021). The famine was worst from September to December 2021, as it
took up to December before the years’ poor harvest could be consumed (Tesfaalem Ghebreyohannes et
al. 2022); the lean period (also called “lean season”, “hunger season”) has been very severe. The lean
season is the time in between finishing the last food that people had at hand and starting to consume the
new harvest (Hirvonen et al. 2016). Besides normal trade and communications, the blockade of Tigray
particularly affects humanitarian aid including food aid, medical supplies and fertilizer. For the 2022
rainfed cropping season, 10,868.5 tonnes of fertilizer reached Tigray (U.N. OCHA 2022), in contrast to the
60,000 tonnes needed. While the belgi or azmera spring rains were generally insufficient for cropping, the
main kremti rains were abundant in 2022.
Farmers' main goals in these dire circumstances were to attempt to generate a better harvest in 2022
and, despite everything, to try and survive another year. We offer field data obtained by the end of August
2022, which were evaluated to determine the percentage of Tigray's land that was seeded on schedule,
the types of crops sown, and the condition of these crops. Despite difficult living and travel conditions,
the agricultural status in some of Tigray's reachable districts was examined for the 2022 growing season.
Map 1. The study area, with GCPs = the observed farmlands
A team of geographers visited 262 agricultural plots (Map 1; Plate 1) in an area indicative of the region's
diverse bio-physical circumstances, including elevation (plots ranged from 1931 to 2600 meters above sea
level), lithology, soil type, rainfall patterns, and hence cropping strategies (Alemtsehay Tsegay et al. 2019;
Nyssen et al. 2019). Other land uses, such as irrigated land, grassland, barren land, bushland, and forest,
were left out of the analysis. We visited ecoregions with different biophysical and agro-ecological
characteristics along main roads in six districts between 24 and 29 August 2022: Tsa'ida Imba, Kilte
Awula'ilo (especially croplands on the outskirts of Wukro's urban district), Dogu'a Tembien (surroundings
of Hagere Selam), Samre, Hintalo (particularly Addi Gudom), and Inderta (Aynalem, Shibta and Didiba).
The investigations typically took place in the wider surroundings of small towns, as transect walks,
observing and talking to farmers present on the farmlands. Participatory monitoring was used to collect
data for each cropland, which included recording the crop type, a group assessment of the crop's status
according to local standards (good, medium, bad, failed; taking into account growth features such as plant
height, greenness and density, ear length, homogeneity in crop stand), observations of whether or not
neighboring farmers cropped in block, and a semi-structured interview with the farmer or a group
discussion (Van De Fliert et al. 2000; Nyumba et al. 2018; Young and Hinton 1996). Aside from the usual
crop evaluation, emphasis was paid to block wise cropping with adjacent farmers since, like three-field
systems, this practice is an indicative of an internally well-organized community, and hints to a superior
yield forecast as it prevents disruptions (Nyssen et al. 2008; Hopcroft 1994; Ruthenberg 1980).
According to descriptive statistics from the dataset, at the end of August, 15% of the monitored farm
parcels had been left fallow (Fig. 1), meaning no crops had been planted (40 plots out of 262) (21% in
2021). However, 7 percent of the fallow plots had no weeds, indicating that the ground had been ploughed
but not seeded. Where the soil is clayey, such ploughed fallow lands may still have been planted in early
September with crops that largely grow on residual moisture, such as tef, grasspea or chickpea. A further
4% of the plots were planted with flax or niger seed, which is often used to improve fallow soil quality
rather than crop output. Among the cultivated parcels, 104 plots (40%) were planted with wheat, barley,
or a mixture of both (hanfets) (49% in 2021), while 84 plots (32%) were planted with tef (26% in 2021).
Only 1% of the land was planted with maize, and another 1% with sorghum (6% and 4% in 2021). As these
crops have a long growing period , they can only be planted when the spring rains are good (Frankl et al.
2013), which was not the case in 2022.
In the plots containing crops that were examined, 46% had been seeded in block, in collaboration with
the owners of surrounding lands (40% in 2021). Wheat and barley (54%) as well as tef (52%) were seeded
in blocks. Three quarter (76 percent) of the wheat and barley fields were in good or medium condition
(Fig. 2). 71 percent of the tef lands were in poor condition (67% in 2021). On average, the crop stands
improved slightly over those of the very bad year 2021 (Tesfaalem Ghebreyohannes et al. 2022), and there
was less fallowing. There are also districts with more fallowing, particularly in places where heavy soils
lead to waterlogging, but can also still be sown in September with legumes, thanks to the long
preservation of residual moisture (Dogu’a Tembien for instance).
Two lean crops, maize and potato, were not planted much, but where planted they showed good growth
(Plates 2 and 3). Tsa’ida Imba, the district with the greatest crop diversity (Fig. 3), had also the best crop
stands (as compared to long-term average conditions) (Fig. 4).
Fertilizer was used on only 56 of the 222 sampled plots with crop: on these lands, at least some mineral
fertilizer was administered at sowing, after crop emergence, or manure was applied (Fig. 5). Due to a
shortage of fertilizers, farmers frequently applied insufficient amounts; only on 17 farmlands out of 262
sampled lands, a fertility management approach was used that would significantly improve crop stands
(Fig. 6). These approaches included using recommended application rates at sowing or as top-dressing
after crop emergence, or using manure, particularly for potato and maize that are grown close to
homesteads. Mineral fertilizer was used exclusively for cereal production (Fig. 7). Tsa'ida Imba used
substantially more fertilizer than the other districts under study (Fig. 8), which most likely also explains
why the crop stands are better there (Fig. 4). A significant issue was the farmers' inappropriate use of
Potassium fertilizer (colloquially known as "red fertilizer"), which led to crop burn, particularly in Tsa'ida
Imba and Samre.
Overall, and adopting a very low threshold, 34% of the analyzed lands were fallowed or are expected to
provide a very poor crop harvest, while 66% of the sampled fields are "promising" and would yield
"medium" or "excellent" crops.
Fig. 1. Crop status of 262 investigated rainfed croplands in a radius of 70 km around Mekelle between 24
and 29 August 2022. Note that cereals occupy 75% of all the sampled lands, which indicates that staple
food was absolutely prioritised, at the expense of the necessary crop rotation.
Fig. 2. Assessment of the crop status per crop type by the end of August 2022. There were only three potato
farmlands formally recorded, but casual observations indicated that rainfed potatoes were doing
extremely well in the Tsa’ida Imba district, the only location where they were observed. There were also
few observations for maize and sorghum.
Fig. 3. Share of crops planted in the studied districts in 2022. Share of fallow is high in Hintalo, Inderta and
Dogu’a Tembien, but less than last year’s.
Fig. 4. Assessment of the crop status per district by the end of August 2022, with 45% of the croplands in
poor condition.
Fig. 5. Fertilizer use on the 222 sampled plots with crop. Only on a quarter of the sampled fields there was
at least some use of fertilizer at sowing, after crop emergence, or manure was applied.
Fig. 6. Depending on availability of fertilizers, the farmers used different approaches to enhance fertility.
Only the last 4 approaches would potentially lead to substantial improvement of crop stands (17
farmlands out of 262 sampled lands). Note that for three quarters of the farmlands, no fertilizer was
applied at all (Fig. 5).
Fig. 7. Soil fertility management per crop type. Typically, in the Tigray highlands, no fertilizer is applied to
leguminous and oil crops.
Fig. 8. Soil fertility management on all 222 sampled plots that had been cropped, organised per woreda;
to be contrasted to Fig. 4.
The survey was challenging but successful. The team of three people visited farm plots in the same
woredas as last year (2021), and recorded 262 Ground Control Points in Tsa'ida Imba, Kilte
Awula'ilo (especially croplands on the outskirts of Wukro's urban district), Dogu'a Tembien
(surroundings of Hagere Selam), Samre, Hintalo (particularly Addi Gudom), and Inderta (Aynalem,
Shibta and Didiba) (Plate 1).
In addition to field observations, we conducted quick interviews with 95 farmers (Table 1).
Table 1. Overview of farmers interviewed on their fields during the transect walks
Dogu'a Tembien (surroundings of Hagere Selam)
Tsa'ida Imba (Sinkata and surroundings)
Kilte Awula'ilo (surroundings of Wukro)
Hintalo (surroundings of Addi Gudom at southern side)
Inderta (Aynalem, Shibta and Didiba)
The data were collected between 24 and 29 August 2022.
We used public transportation. Hence, it was tiresome and challenging as it was difficult to easily
find buses as mobility in woredas of Tigray has almost stopped due to lack of fuel. For example a
minibus driver who used to make three round trips per day between Samre and Mekelle during
the normal time has now to wait at least four days to make a single trip between Mekelle and
Samre. Hence, we waited for 5 hours and 30 minutes and finally found a private car to return to
Mekelle where we reached at 10:30 PM.
Though we managed to visit the woredas we visited last year it was difficult to collect data in the
villages between towns. For example, we did not collect data between Dengolat and Adigudom
(around Hintalo) and between Sinkata and Wukro as we did last year.
The yield may not be much better than last year’s. Summer rainfall is good both in terms of
distribution and amount (as per our field observation and farmers reflection), but spring rains
(azmera) have failed. Especially, lack or late arrival of fertilizer has been a challenge (Plates 4 and
5). Most of the farmers reported that either they did not totally apply fertilizer at sowing or used
an insufficient amount as compared to what is needed or what they were used to apply over the
last years. Recently (when we visited the study areas), FAO has distributed fertilizer to some
farmers (that ranges mostly from 15 kg to 50 kg) but too late (last week of Hamle month, which
is the first week of August; according to the farmers). However, still this is insufficient and too
late. Especially, as the farmers say, DAP is supposed to be incorporated in the soil at the sowing
period before the growth of the crops. When they used it now (when the crop is well grown), it is
often carried away by runoff that flows from the plots.
The spring (azmera) rains were poor, what has affected sorghum, millet and maize growth. In
many places that are suitable for these crops, they had not been planted because the spring rains
were insufficient. For instance, in Tsa’ida Imba district, millet and sorghum were widely grown in
2021 but not in 2022. According to the farmers, the reason is that these crops need a longer
growing period but there was no or very few rain in spring. Thus, many farmers decided to grow
other crops. On a few lands, millet or sorghum was grown but it was either poor or late (Plates 6
and 7).
In all the areas we visited, it seems that crop productivity will be less, mainly due to late arrival or
insufficiency of fertilizer and subsequent waterlogging (Plate 8). We have also similar reports from
the farmers. Many crops have failed due to lack of fertilizer that neutralizes the effects of
waterlogging induced by the heavy rain in this rainy season. Again, almost all the interviewees [on
non-cereal plots] reported that due to lack of fertilizer, they decided to grow leguminous or oil
crops that either need no fertilizer or grow lately instead of growing the usual crops such as tef,
barley and wheat and put themselves at risk of crop failure.
Farmers could generally not buy fertilizer from the market (Plate 9) because: (i) it is not easy to
find fertilizer in the market; (ii) they couldn’t afford the high price as it is difficult to get cash during
this blockade and siege. Even if they get money, they prefer to buy food for immediate
consumption for their children instead of buying fertilizer.
Many farmers in Samre and Sinkata seriously complained that their crops failed due to the use of
Potassium fertilizer (Plates 10 and 11). They applied it in 2022 as they failed to get the types of
fertilizer they used to apply before.
The share of fallow lands varies from district to district. There was little fallowing in Tsa’ida Imba
and Wukro but much more in Dogua Tembien, Inderta and around Dengolat (Samre district). See
Plates 12, 13 and 14. The lack of fertilizer forced farmers to keep their farmlands fallow
throughout the rainy season, while planning to sow legumes or tef towards the end of the rainy
period, hoping that fertilizer would be available by then. This was aggravated by waterlogging in
heavy soils, due to strong summer rains. On the vertisols of Inderta and surroundings, many
farmers were still ploughing their farmlands while we were conducting the survey (Plate 15). They
planned to sow either for legumes or tef.
A unique observation: around Hagereselam, as compared to the status in 2021, this year (in 2022)
we observed more fallowing (for legumes) and the crops are relatively late or failed due to
waterlogging. Obviously, yield will be significantly lower than last year’s.
A particular reason for the relatively good growth of crops in Tsa’ida Imba might be the fact
that, as we observed in the field, the soil is mostly “sandy”. Hence, less waterlogging; which was
a major problem for crop failure in the other districts.
Plate 1. Partial view of the status of crops around Dengolat (left) and Sinkata (right)
Plate 2. Maize field in Tsa’ida Imba woreda.
Plate 3. Relatively good growth of potato in Tsa’ida Imba.
Plate 4. Two plots which were sown at the same date with the same type of crop (tef) but the one (A)
with DAP applied during sowing, while the other (B) without fertilizer. The crop in A was recorded as
good status while the one in B has a poor status. Around Samre.
Plate 5. Two nearby barley plots which were sown at only three days interval; the one with DAP
application at the sowing date (is now in a good status) while the other at a relatively poor status.
Around Sinkata (Tsa’ida Imba).
Plate 6. Poorly grown millet (front) and sorghum (rear) due to delayed Azmera rain needed for such crops
in Tsa’ida Imba district. We noted also the absence of gemsa ploughing on sorghum, i.e. shallow ploughing
after crop emergence to uproot weeds and favour apical growth by root pruning (Nyssen et al. 2011).
Plate 7. Poorly grown/half failed sorghum owing to delayed azmera rainfall in Tsa’ida Imba district. In
normal years, gemsa ploughing (see caption of Plate 6) would have helped recovering the crop.
Plate 8. Waterlogging in farmlands around Dengolat (left), Samre (middle) and Wukro (right)
Plate 9. Fertilizer, as available in limited amounts in Tigray in the 2022 summer season, from left to right:
bags of NPS, Urea and Muriate of Potash; zoom on MoP granules (Photos Seifu Gebreselassie)
Plate 10. Interviewees in the villages around Samre complaining that their tef crops have failed because
they used Potassium fertilizer; it is a type of fertilizer they never saw and used before.
Plate 11. Plot with totally failed crop, which the farmer blames on the use of Potassium fertilizer; now,
the land is grazed by livestock. Around Sinkata.
Plate 12. State of fallowing around Dengolat in 2021 (left) and 2022 (right) (Samre woreda)
Plate 13. State of fallowing around Dengolat (2022) (Samre woreda)
Plate 14. Status of fallowing around Sinkata in 2021 (left) and 2022 (right) (Tsa’ida Imba woreda)
Plate 15. Farmers ploughing their plots for legumes in May Keyah (Didiba tabiya) in Inderta. During normal
times (in the availability of fertilizer and normal rain) these farmlands are planted with wheat, barley or
A. Tigray Bureau of Agriculture and Tigray Agricultural Research Institute, Mekelle
Farmers have searched under every rock this year to obtain fertilizer for their farmlands because most
croplands require fertilizer to produce decent crops. Besides our own shipments of fertilizer to some
woredas, FAO distributed limited volumes of NPS but no other type of fertilizer.
The farmers are referring to potassium when they say "red" fertilizer (in line with its’ red coating).
Based on the Soil Atlas of Tigray (MoA and ATA 2014), 26 woredas with potassium-deficient soils were
supposed to get potassium this year, including Tsa'ida Imba and Samre. In those woredas, just a few
farmers received 2550 kg of it. Most woredas did not receive the potassium due to a lack of
Inappropriate quantities or timing might be to blame for the toxicity (burning of the crops); it should also
be administered in conjunction with urea or DAP rather than as a standalone fertilizer. Unfortunately,
many agricultural specialists left their workplace as a result of the war and were unable to offer such
advice to the farmers. Indeed, due to the Ethiopian government's blocking of the Tigray budget,
agricultural specialists have not been paid for more than a year.
B. Em. Prof. Dr. ir. Seppe Deckers, Division of Soil & Water Management, K.U.Leuven, Belgium
Muriate of Potash (Plate 9) is the potassium salt: KCl or potassium chloride. It contains 60 62%
potassium oxide: K2O.
Used as a fertilizer it will dissolve in the soil moisture, as K+ and Cl- (Blaylock 2022). Both are then readily
absorbed by the crop roots and may benefit growth if used in the right quantities. Some crops (e.g.
citrus) are sensitive to Cl- (chlorine) and may suffer burns on the roots even at low concentrations.
Although the MOP used in Tigray could have been produced more than five years ago, it can still be used
as MOP is really very stable as long as it is conserved in dry condition. When conserved in too wet
condition, it will become hard like a rock. It still remains valuable after crushing into a small mesh
granules. The sample on the photo (Plate 9, lower photo) looks like MOP fertilizer that was hardened
and then crushed.
As muriate of potash is increasing soil salinity, it could easily burn crops especially in case of a dry spell,
just after application. I believe that is what happened to the crops in Tigray in the 2022 season. In any
case it is important to apply this fertilizer at some distance from the crop roots to avoid root burn.
Crop response to potassium depends on the potassium reserve present in the rooting zone. If natural
levels are high, as is the case in freshly cultivated land of Tigray, it would be useless to apply potassium
as a fertilizer. Only after a long time of land use particularly with crops that export potassium at high
rates e.g. root crops or bananas, potassium reserves in the soil may go down below a threshold, hence
response to K-fertilizer will become important. As response to potassium will be higher on sandy soils
than on silty or clayey soils we could expect a crop response in Samre en Sinkata. Sandy soils have little
buffering against too high levels of fertilizer, especially to potassium which increases soil salinity.
Especially when rains are failing this effect may cause crops to burn as seems to have happened last
season. The negative effect of potassium due to increased soil salinity may also happen also in more
clayey or silty soils in irrigated land of micro-dams e.g. in Adi Gudom, where high levels of salinity was
observed in the past even in absence of potassium fertilizer.
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and their advisors. Fertilizer recommendations should be more specific and be made related to soil type
and the crop that will be grown by the farmers. Calibration of fertilizer recommendations by soil and
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Due to war conditions, the local farmers had to largely rely on their own crop production, mainly by subsistence farming, in Tigray, North Ethiopia. We assessed the crop stands in 2021 and evaluated the level of resilience of the indigenous farming system. Quantitative data were collected from 161 farm parcels in various ecoregions of this tropical mountain region, in order to detect the share of sown land, crop types and their status. This participatory monitoring was accompanied by semi-structured interviews. Farmers cultivated their farms late, left it uncultivated or marginally sowed oil crops as improved fallow (28%), due to lack of farming tools, oxen, fertilizer, seeds or manpower. As compared to peace years, only few lands were sown with sorghum as there was active warfare in the sorghum planting period. The relatively good stands of wheat and barley (47%) are in line with the farmers’ priority given to cereals. Teff got a large land share because it could be sown up to the middle of the main rainy season and because farmers had consumed the seeds of their major cereal crops (wheat and barley) when hiding for warfare. Seeds left from consumption were only sown by late June, when troops had retreated, and the communities could revive. With almost no external support, the local farming system has proven to be remarkably resilient, relying on indigenous knowledge and local practices, block rotation, manure, improved fallow, changes in relative importance of crops, seed exchange and support one another. This is the first analysis of the socio-agronomic roots of the 2021-2022 Tigray hunger crisis, with a cereal harvest that could not at all sustain the local population as the planting season had been largely missed. The ability of the indigenous farming system to partially rebounce in times of autarky is another novel finding.
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The war in Tigray reveals all the features of international crimes, including genocide. This is a full-fledged war, carefully planned, coordinated and executed, including by relying on external actors. The aim is to destroy Tigray and its people. The conflict has deep historical roots, including for establishing the Federal system for Ethiopia in 1991. The forces that control this state have now fragmented this territory, established a reign of terror, and are using hunger as a weapon for their political goals. This is why 80% of the population finds itself at the mercy of the external world for survival.
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Knowledge of the geographical distribution of soils is indispensable for policy and decision makers to achieve the goal of increasing agricultural production and reduce poverty, particularly in the Global South. A study was conducted to better understand the soilscapes of the Giba catchment (900-3300 m a.s.l.; 5133 km 2) in northern Ethiopia, so as to sustain soil use and management. To characterise the chemical and physical properties of the different benchmark soils and to classify them in line with the World Reference Base of Soil Resources, 141 soil profile pits and 1381 soil augerings at representative sites were analysed. The dominant soil units identified are Leptosol and bare rock (19% coverage), Vertic Cambisol (14%), Regosol and Cambisol (10%), Skeletic/Leptic Cambisol and Regosol (9%), Rendzic Leptosol (7%), Calcaric/Calcic Vertisol (6%), Chromic Luvisol (6%) and Chro-mic/Pellic Vertisol (5%). Together these eight soil units cover almost 75% of the catchment. Topography and parent material are the major influencing factors that explain the soil distribution. Besides these two factors, land cover that is strongly impacted by human activities, may not be overlooked. Our soil suitability study shows that currently, after thousands of years of agricultural land use, a new dynamic equilibrium has come into existence in the soilscape, in which ca. 40% of the catchment is very suitable, and 25% is moderately suitable for agricultural production. In view of such large suitable areas, the Giba catchment has a good agricultural potential if soil erosion rates can be controlled, soil fertility (particularly nitrogen) increased, available water optimally used, and henceforth crop yields increased. PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.
It has been a year since a devastating war broke out in the Tigray region, Northern Ethiopia, where hundreds of thousands of Tigrayan civilians are killed, millions internally displaced and tens of thousands have fled to seek refuge in neighboring Sudan. An alarming development linked to this war is the manmade famine in Tigray that now threatens the lives of the millions of civilians who survived the horrific atrocities during the war. This piece is an attempt to explain why millions of Tigrayans from all walks of life face famine and concludes that famine was from the start an end goal of the Ethiopian and Eritrean regimes and they employed different tactics to ensure that it unfolds the way it does now. Among others, the tactics include (1) the systematic looting and destruction of Tigray's basic economic infrastructures, (2) implementation of different financial measures to deprive people in the region of access to cash, and imposition of a complete siege that hindered access to supplies including lifesaving humanitarian assistance.
The thesis examines aspects of social change in rural Tigray, northern Ethiopia. It is based on fieldwork conducted between February 1993 and February 1995 in two villages located on the south central highland plateau: Enda Mariyam, and Tegula. The majority of fieldwork was conducted in Enda Mariyam - a village of some 228 farming households - and spanned two complete agricultural years. The thesis considers the local implications of reform measures implemented by nationalist rebels - the Tigray People's Liberation Front - as part of a revolutionary agenda for the transformation of "traditional" Ethiopian peasant society. These measures included, most notably, land tenure reform, as well as changes in customary law and the re-organisation of rural administration. In addition, campaigns were mounted aimed at modifying certain aspects of peasant practice. In the context of a village-based ethnography, the thesis aims to qualify the most significant effects of these measures on social life and livelihoods. A key concern is how reform measures have affected the relationship between subsistence-oriented production, social organisation, and social stratification. In a setting where agricultural inputs - including land, oxen, and seed - are scarce, differential abilities amongst farming households to access agricultural inputs informs the pattern of social relationships. In this context, land reform is intimately linked to changes in the dynamics of wealth differentiation and social stratification in the village. The implications for the position of "big men" and cultural notions of status-honour are considered. Together with land reform, reform of customary law in the area of marriage and divorce has wrought subtle but important changes in marriage and divorce practices, and the nature of intra-household relationships. It is argued that public campaigns for the "emancipation" of women have probably had less effect on the ability of women to exert power within marriage, than the economic penalties that men now face upon divorce. Attempts to modify peasant religious practice are also examined, including efforts to minimise the number of holidays in the Ethiopian Orthodox calendar. The outcome of these attempts is explored in terms of notions of disaster and risk, the traditional authority of the Church, and the fragmentation of consensus around religious practice in the village.
Settled agriculture in Tigray started at least 3000 years ago. Its long history is reflected in the high agricultural biodiversity, including endemic crops, such as the emblematic cereal tef (Eragrostis tef).
https://journals.openedition.org/geomorphologie/12258 In Northern Tigray (Ethiopia), contemporaneous agriculture is based on soils stored and developed on terraces, upstream of dry-stone walls crossing the thalwegs of this mountainous area. The discovery, during archaeological surveys, of aksumite and pre-aksumite settlements on the site of Wakarida and its surroundings, questions the age of such terraces landscapes. Comparing with ancient terraces from all over the world, dating from the 3rd millennium BCE, as well as with the functioning of contemporaneous structures maintaining soils and forming thick accumulations, raises the question of the age of those constructions and of their role in the sedimentary filling of the valleys. Sedimentological study and dating of deposits, consultation of iconographic and textual archives, of ancient aerial photographs and conducting of ethnogeomorphological interviews with farmers have formed the basis for first hypotheses regarding the evolutions of the landscape and the environment since the Mid-Holocene. Results tend to show that terraces are recent and develop on inherited sedimentary fillings. These ones testify from changes in the human occupation in the area, from a light footprint to a strong demographic pressure during Aksumite times, followed by an abandonment phase and very recent reoccupation.