October 22, 2012

This time of the season in Eritrea

This time of the season in Eritrea

by Yishak Yared | According to the Eritrean calendar September, October and November are months in which the Eritrean farmers are fully engaged in harvesting what they cultivated during winter, the long rainy season. During this months winter is replaced with the season we call autumn (Tsedei in Tigrigna language).

Last winter there was bounty rainfall in almost all parts of Eritrea and farmers were able to cultivate variety crops. The Eritrean economy is more dependent upon agricultural production. Over 70% of the population lives in the rural areas and conducts substantial agricultural production, where as others are estimated to traders and workers. Hence it is natural that the majority of the population to expect the agricultural products they toiled for almost for the entire year.

In Eritrea all citizens above the age of 18 have the right of land tenure for farming in the place they live. This right has been in place since the years of the struggle for independence. Farmers have plots of land in which they could cultivate variety of crops.

Agricultural activities in the country are mainly concentrated in the highland part where population density per cultivated area is high. The low land area is mostly uncultivated. However, the government of Eritrea is currently heavily investing to turn the lowland area into modern mechanized agricultural hub. The investments being made in Gerset, Fancos, Ad-Umer, Af-Himbol, and others are vivid examples to justify the arguement.

The land form in Eritrea is categorized as Moist Highland, Arid-Highland, Moist-Lowland, Arid-Lowland, Sub-humid escarpment ad Semi-desert zone. In each land form grow different crops and in some cases similar.

In the Moist highland part the common crops that are cultivated are barely, wheat, taf, sorghum, maize and pulses; in the Arid-highland sorghum, pearl millet and barely; in the Moist lowland sorghum, sesame, cotton, finger millet, pearl millet and maize; in the arid lowland sorghum and pearl millet; in the sub-humid escarpment maize, sorghum, coffee and barely and in the semi-desert zone sorghum and maize under spate irrigation. (Ministry of Agriculture magazine)

There are two rainy seasons in Eritrea. The main rainy season which is from June to August is mostly in the highland and in the western lowlands while the eastern escarpment enjoys rainfall from September to November. Hence in this part of the season it is the people from the highlands and the western lowlands that are fully engaged in collecting their harvest.

Harvesting is conducted mainly through traditional means while the introduction of modern harvesting system is being introduced. The traditional means of harvesting is time consuming and difficult for farmers. Families are involved in manual way of collecting their harvest and oxen and other animals are involved in the process collecting, threshing and carrying home the crops. In most cases it takes farmers months to finish collecting their harvest.

After they finish collecting their harvest it is time for farmers to feast and enjoy the fruit of their toil. The month of January through February is mostly the time of celebrating weddings and other different religious and traditional feasts.

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