How many locals does it take to unload a new 2 wheel tractor in the dark by the dim glow of a motorbike light? I counted about 5… But 30 turned out for the occasion, and 3 policemen all curious of the event taking place. Let’s jump back to the start of the day, we arrived in Adama at the tractor manufacturing workshop to sign the release forms for some 2 wheel tractors but the bureaucracy system in Africa had other plans, 3 hours of rewriting paper work that ‘never arrived’ and several phone calls chasing up tasks that had been ‘delegated’ we finally make some progress! We load up 4 tractors onto an awaiting truck and squeeze on the plough and seeding implements, the machines dangling above the bustling Tuktuk traffic as they are carried across the road by a loader. Being 5 hours behind schedule was sure to take its toll at the other end of the day, we take off ahead of the truck to finalise some transport paper work, waiting for them to catch up. Perched on the side of the road we join the all too common coffee ceremonies amongst the burning incense and chat chewing locals. Handing over the last form we head for a kebele (area) in Hawassa about 3 hours drive away, passing a number of trucks resting in unusual positions who have fallen off the roads. Some with 3 flat tyres leaning heavily against the eucalyptus sticks which hold them tentatively upright. Turning down the maze like roads, we find the drop off point, two leading farmers in the area had shown interest at a 2 wheel tractor demonstration event and through the help of a financial package and support of the FACASI project were able to purchase a tractor and implement. These are what we call farmer/service providers who will use the machines on their own property, host demonstration events and complete contract work for surrounding farmers to introduce and build education around the 2 wheel tractor mechanisation technology.
We stand in the clearing in front of the mud wall house by the dim light of a motorbike, waiting for the rumbling sounds of the arriving truck. The disfigured silhouettes of laughing children running through a hanging blanket of dust emerge through the passing headlights. Women leading donkeys loaded sky high with teetering piles of maize stubble and straw navigate through the night along the potholed road. The unload is swift with the growing crowd gathering in the clearing, all eager to see what was being delivered. And as swiftly as they arrive, the delivery truck departs; its 8.30pm and another 40km drive along a very average track to the next kebele where the last 2 farmers are anxiously awaiting.
We are in the southern region, Hawassa is the capital but there are many districts which make up the region and many kebeles that make up the districts. We stop off at the kebele, 30 km south of Hawassa the next morning to double check the delivery to the service providers, a local ag extension worker meets us at the cross road on his motorbike to lead us through the village. We pass women filling up dirty yellow plastic tubs from the local water pump, heaving them onto rickety wooden trailers attached to a donkey. They load 10 or more tubs on, wrapping a frayed piece of rope around the edges to secure them before guiding the animal back home. This is the first place I have seen where motorbikes are actually quite common and Esayas tells me they would cost almost the same as the 2 wheel tractor. At each cross road we seem to pick up another farmer, until before long we are 5 to the back seat and I am nestled between the window and a bare gummed smiling old man, local kids run next to us shouting ‘forengi!’ which means foreigner. Arriving at the tractors which have been parked in a clearing at the local school we all pile out to assess them. A nod of approval and a handshake is given, then we are off to Asella!