Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), University of Colorado at Boulder

The CCB is an educational, outreach, and networking organization at the University of Colorado, Boulder. CCB focuses on enhancing the value and use of climate, water, and weather information for the betterment of societies and the well being of individuals around the world.
Jun 1, 2011

Recent Farmers’ Capacity Building workshop

It has been nine months since the demonstration site on the “use of clay pots for irrigation in the dry lands” began. The project planted fruit trees in a common area and distributed others to individual farmers. Recent rapid survey shows that more than 85 per cent of the fruit trees have survived the long dry season. Upcoming rains arrive for the anticipated rainy season beginning in mid-June. The rainy season will further enhance the life of our planted fruit trees.

Eighty framers and student interns participated in the training workshop that took place on May 29, 2011. The participants included 24 female and 56 men from the village. Three experts who have extensive experience in plant science, rural development and capacity building gave the workshop.    

The training focused on the following issues:

  • Different irrigation methods and the benefits of the clay pot irrigation system for dry land irrigation 
  • The characteristics and behaviors of fruit trees such as apples. 
  • The varieties of Rootstock and scion
  • Management of food forests including site selection, pit preparation, composting, plantation, watering, fertilization (organic and inorganic), dormancy, pruning, follow up of disease and pests, and some cultural practices that enable preventing diseases and pests, time table for agronomic practices)
  • Advantages of fruit trees (production capacity, source of income, medicinal value etc).
  • The production and application of composts
  • The importance of farm schedules.

During the workshop many farmers and students demanded for more apple trees to be planted during the next rainy season. Now that the trees are growing, farmers also demanded tools such as tree-cutting knives. We plan to respond positively thanks to your continued support.

Mar 2, 2011

Report from a February 2011 trip to the project

Victory garden student interns
Victory garden student interns

 I visited the victory gardens demonstration project using clay pots for sub-surface irrigation  in Ethiopia in February. The project is fulfilling its primary objective of training and introducing the technique of clay pots sub-surface irrigation in the dry highlands to enable participants to grow fruit trees and vegetables during the dry season with more than 50% efficiency of water. My initial meeting with the leaders of the community and the rural students confirmed that water is the main livelihood constraints in the village.  

The students have been training as interns in the project and have been doing a wonderful job by filling the clay pots every Saturday and taking care of the plants. The system has enabled the plants to survive during the dry months that begun in September.  The stress of aridity has been visible recently when the harvested water was completely used up. We bought water so that the plants can survive until the next rain fills the water tankers.  

I did two things before I left Boulder to Ethiopia. I bought about 10 pounds of apple fruits so that the kids and the people can taste what the fruit trees they are taking care taste and smell when they produce in the future. The second was to purchase 16 Boulder-Bolder Rub T-Shirts. They cost me only $1 each on sale after the end of the run. I wanted to give them as a thank you present for a job well done (see pictures of the students and apple tasting activities-all the people have never tasted an apple before). Those who tasted the apples loved the taste (saying it is juicy, tender, good flavor) and said that they have seen the future and will continue to work hard to adopt the technology.  

The next step is to use your money to support the students to begin building their own victory gardens using clay pots as watering tool. The students confirmed that they will have their own small garden plots around their homesteading the near future. Since they are already trained, they will be supported to get seedlings and clay pots to water the fruit trees.  

We were informed that one of the trees already produced an apple fruit and that the owner took it to a village wide memorial service to the community what it was. The fruit was passed to everyone with a feedback about its odor, its tenderness and finally it was and tasted. The owner of the fruit finally revealed to the people that it was from the new apple tree. Every one rejoiced as they have never seen or tasted an apple before and it was an indication of the goodies that they will harvest in the future. This will happen with hard work and the generous contribution of good people like.  Your contribution is creating miracles.  Please note that this project NEVER uses your contributions for travel or any other expense other tan its intended purpose of helping the kids. Thank you.

expert training
expert training
Thanks to the clay pots the seedlings survived
Thanks to the clay pots the seedlings survived
showing the sub-surface irrrigation
showing the sub-surface irrrigation
Nov 23, 2010

The dry season has arrived but the trees are OK

First of all I would like to thank you for your support.  I would like to share with you the following updates about the project to build victory gardens for Ethiopian students.

I have not traveled to the project area since the summer. However reports coming from the pilot project are good and they include the following.

The fruit tree seedlings are still alive despite the arrival of the dry season.

The dry season has arrived. The clay pot irrigation system is working fine. No plant has died due to drought. The partners and students will weed the trees that have grown around the plants to compete for the water. It was also reported that only two clay pots out of the 50 in the community garden have been leaking due to previous crack. The general condition of the plants around the individual households are good as no plants have  died due to the aridity.

Repairs of the water harvesting system is done. But rain has stopped before the containers are full

This is a report I received from Ato Amanuel Gebru, a fruit plant expert and volunteer in the area on September 13, 2010

"This is to update you about the field situation; we have been visiting your field trial two three times independently with Emebet before one week. Up to the last field date the two containers are on site but since there was leakage of water before reaching to the water container. Some maintenance has been conducted but since now there is no rain in the area after maintenance. In the previous container there is only 1/3 rd of its volume.  And all plants are performing well till now. And the clay pots are also filled with water due to the previous rain. As to the expectation there will be rain in the coming days if not we will use other options to ship water and continue the study successfully."

A Report from Another volunteer (Ato Zesu) who visited the area sent the following on October 29

"I came back from ATebes (the proejct area)  last week. I am sending you the pictures of the apple seedlings in the community farm. The students are watering them by filling the clay pots.Both the apples planted last summer have life and they are in a very good situation except the water shortage.The apples planted in the vicinity of the farmers houses also are in very good situation. All have life."

As the season passes the intensity of the drought will continue. We are planning to rent a water tanker to fill the two water containers. Until that is arranged, the students are fetching water form nearby reservoir using plastic containers on their way back to the village from the school which is about 6 kilometers away. The youth are already convinced to use the technique to adapt to the drought.

However, we believe that a long term solution to the problem of drought is need through large scale water harvesting in the region. Even if one uses sper efficient irrigation techniques, the pots have to be filled with water from somewhere.

Reports we get from the farmers also indicate that they are being convinced that the growing fruit trees by irrigating them with buried claypots is something they will adopt in the future. We are confident that your contribution will eventually see fruit.

Please see new pictures of the apple trees taken recently on the project page.If you want to share how the system of claypots irrigation works, go to our training slide show at

Happy Thanks Giving and Holiday Season and thank you for your continued support.


If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain.  If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees.  If you want a hundred years of prosperity, grow people.  

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