30 years after Ethiopia famine, Valley of Death blooms

Working the land: farmers use camels to plough their field
Working the land: farmers use camels to plough their field

by Martin Bentham

(London Evening Standard) The vivid green landscape was once known as Ethiopia’s “ Valley of Death ”.

Now, as a mango tree glints in the sunlight beside him, farmer Desta Beletew looks across the fields and describes the transformation. “You didn’t see trees like this, not even the grass, it was just bare fields. People were dying by the road,” he says, reflecting on the deadly famine of 30 years ago, which prompted the Live Aid concerts and one of the world’s greatest ever humanitarian relief efforts.

“Everyone was thirsty, thin, very weak — not strong like now. It was difficult to guess that it could be better. But now the bad times won’t come back.”

Mr Beletew’s confidence is reflected by the variety of crops growing around him in Ethiopia’s Antsokia Valley.

As well as mangos, his farm now produces papayas, oranges and bananas, as well as more traditional local crops such as teff — a type of cereal — onions, sorghum and maize. Bee hives hang from three of his trees, while sheep and chickens provide further income. Read full story on London Evening Standard

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