ETHIOPIA, FEBRAURY 1988

Date: 
22/02/1988
Country: 
ETHIOPIA

22 February 1988
I am on my way to Ethiopia, in fact my first trip to a developing country this year. I had some problems in getting the ticket right. I have to lecture tomorrow at ILCA and then at an Ethiopian meeting. It was nice of them to invite me. I am taking with me a lot of stuff for Mike Daw. Ethiopia is still in the grip of civil war which is causing so many problems with famine. I was glad to get away from the Institute; it is becoming full of intrigues.

23 February 1988
Arrived in Addis Ababa and was met and taken to ILCA. I had time to sleep for two hours before I had to give seminars.

24 February 1988
I gave a paper at The Ethiopian Institute for agricultural research IAR with about 200-300 people. It was a nice experience to be listened to by so many. There was an evening party with some whisky, I felt a bit dizzy when I came home. I discovered that I had left my diary at the meeting room and felt rather bad about it, but it was not lost.

25 February 1988
I spent the evening in a nice Ethiopian home with Shinas and her sisters. Ethiopian homes are nice, they are poor but Ethiopians are very warm people. They have a system of serving coffee which is quite unique with green material spread around them, it is so formal. In fact, we even negotiated how many cattle they   would need as a bride price to get one of her sisters.! When I returned I sent an email to say that cattle were on the way! I would like to see Doug Little who is going to Gambia soon. He wants me to get out there. All in all I enjoy Ethiopia very much, what a pity they have so many problems.

27 February 1988
Saturday morning. I now have a problem with my return ticket. They had unfortunately issued me with a ticket that meant that I would have to be in Addis for two weeks. This is clearly not possible. To sum up the meeting was rather boring and somewhat political. I have a feeling that the conclusion was written before the meeting, and included a statement that we appreciate the government villagization scheme. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have been waiting for a car to arrive from the Ministry of Agriculture to take me to a station in Holleta, also to see some small farms. Mike Daw turned up this morning quite out of the blue; he is now here on a mission. I shall be with him tonight. We seem to meet in the strangest places. I had my case half full of materials for him to take to his FAO office.

29 February 1988
At London airport now, waiting for a plane to take me to Aberdeen, but the weather is bad there and no landing permission is given yet.

The car for Holleta eventually turned up yesterday and when we got there is was too late to go and see the small farms which were why we went there. We had a barbecue lunch at the station which was quite elaborate. I got a bit angry since our main concern was to see small farms and we didn’t see any. In the evening Mike Daw and Percy from Inverurie came to take me out for dinner with another lad from Scotland. It was great, Mike is doing an excellent job out here I think. We then decided, having ascertained that I now had a ticket back to Aberdeen after all, that we should now go in the early morning to Debra Berhan to visit small farms in that area. It was very successful. We found farmers delivering milk to distribution plants in quantities of 1-5 litres and being paid on the spot. Milk was tested and measured on the spot to be sure that no water was mixed into it. Also some farmers were trashing teff with eight bullocks tramping on it. It was in fact much more informing than anything else I had seen. Mike is excellent at talking to the farmers, and although we did not speak the Amharic language we managed very well to get the information we needed. Why the government of Ethiopia with the dogma of villagization and building of state farms and cooperatives I cannot fathom that they should make the best of use of the resources and that the best use of human brains. State farms are apparently in a complete mess. Yet they carry on regardless. The trip has not been as good as I had hoped, but one can never tell. I am not particularly looking forward to going back to the Rowett Institute.

We now have a message that it is clear in Aberdeen so we are off to Aberdeen.