Small investment grows into big capital

English1. October 2015

More trees and plants are set to be planted in southern Ethiopia with support from the Kavli Trust, to benefit both the climate and the national economy.

Text: Teresa Grøtan
Photo: Ketil Fuglestad, StS EDA

trærThis backing from the trust follows a new funding agreement with the Self to Self Economic Development Association (StS EDA), based in Norway.

The man behind this project is Ketil Fuglestad, a retired market gardener who lived in Ethiopia for much of the 1970s and 1980s but is now to be found in Bryne south of Stavanger.

“A seedling represents a minor investment but, in a favourable climate and good soil, can grow into a substantial capital holding,” he says.


Fuglestad wants to help people in southern Ethiopia start commercial nurseries or garden centres where young plants can be cultivated for onward sale.

Fuglestad2His project will provide a start-up grant for poor families and single people who want to grow seedlings for orchards, coffee production and forest planting.


“Many of the landowners are basically poor, but their holdings have fertile soil which is going to waste,” Fuglestad points out. But he adds that a lot of know-how is needed to run a nursery.

Those who want it receive instruction in mixing soil, fertilising it, sowing, covering, watering, potting and root treatment – everything required for success.

Whole families get theoretical and practical lessons on how to deal with various kinds of plants. The nurseries will be organic, using only natural fertiliser and manual pest treatment.


“The goal is to boost the income of poor farming families and others who’re interested in cultivation while also enhancing awareness,” explains Fuglestad.

“Farmers need to appreciate the benefits of green plant coverage for the climate, species diversity, feed supplies and well-being for both humans and animals.”

Funding from the Kavli Trust will be used to help establish new nurseries in areas where they are currently lacking, and the aim is to establish six of them a year.

That will provide work for the families who own them as well as about 30 day labourers. These units will be able to supply their first plants in the spring of 2016.

Juniper, coffee and fruit

Desalegne Yohannes

desalegneIn addition to making armchairs, doors and windows, Desalegne Yohannes runs a nursery at Konso in southern Ethiopia to grow seedlings of Juniperus procera, the world’s largest juniper.

This tree is immune to termite attacks, and therefore much used by Ethiopians for housebuilding. It is usually grown in combination with maize, sorghum and beans.

Yohannes produces some 30-40 000 seedlings a year of various kinds from his nursery, including fruit trees and coffee bushes as well as juniper.

Konse Keko and Fantu Temesgen

kaffeCoffee beans represent an important product in Ethiopia, and are known for their quality. The harvest has been good for married couple Konse Keko and Fantu Temesgen.

Growing coffee provides farmers with a good and secure income, and much of the crop sold is in the local market despite being one of Ethiopia’s most important export commodities.

Elias Osja

Elias og datterElias Osja lives in the town of Geresse in southern Ethiopia, where he has founded a nursery to produce conifers, coffee bushes and eucalyptus. These are sown in plant pots, and sold when the rainy season begins.

A course organised through StS EDA taught him to care for and graft fruit trees. He now sells several types of apple, and has started with pears.

His home in the mountains, about 1 800 metres above sea level, is ideal for fruit cultivation and the nursery covers some 600 square metres.

It is filled with rootstock ready for grafting and with young fruit trees which will be put on sale when the rains start in September.

The increased income for Osja’s family has allowed it to send all five of the children to school, and the oldest (pictured) has now completed his 10th year.