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An Ethiopian tree farmer stands with his family in front of the trees he has grown.

1 farmer, 61,000 tree seedlings

Meet Yeshiwas Ayehu, an innovative farmer from Ethiopia whose commitment to growing and distributing trees in his community is changing their lives and the landscape around them.

In the heart of Ethiopia, farmers are quietly changing their landscape, livelihoods, and communities through their commitment to tree planting. Through training provided by One Acre Fund, 165,000 farmers have become tree nursery managers in the country, growing and distributing over 15 million tree seedlings to their communities. 

Meet the expert: Yeshiwas ‘Seedling’ Ayehu 

Yeshiwas Ayehu is known in his neighborhood as an innovative farmer who quickly adopts new techniques and firmly believes in the transformative power of trees. When One Acre Fund and the local government approached him to see if he was interested in training to become a tree nursery manager, he saw an opportunity to build a business, support his family, and positively impact his community. 

That was over 5 years ago, and now, Yeshiwas is the proud owner of a tree nursery producing and selling grevillea, gesho, coffee, moringa, and Cordia africana. Yeshiwas produces about 61,000 seedlings annually to distribute to his community. He is also known for his excellence in completing nursery activities on time and following the direction and training given by our field team.

An Ethiopian farmer stands in front of the trees he is growing on his farm.
“On average, I have been multiplying and selling 61,000 seedlings every year. Now, I have a nickname. The villagers call me ‘Yeshiwas Seedling. The community shows me respect everywhere I go.”

Yeshiwas Ayehu

Tree nursery manager

As Ethiopian smallholder farmers, like Yeshiwas, establish themselves as tree entrepreneurs through their work as tree nursery managers, the nurseries they manage—and seedlings they grow—are not only helping them generate more income, but are also helping restore ecosystems and increase farmers’ harvests by improving soil health. 

Growing wealth through tree expertise 

Yeshiwas’s dedication to promoting tree planting has not only resulted in remarkable benefits for his farming, but also for his livelihood. 

By establishing a tree nursery, he has created a sustainable business that provides him with a steady source of additional revenue. Then, with the profits he makes from the nursery, he reinvests into other ventures, such as livestock rearing. 

“After I started working as a tree nursery operator, I bought two oxen, one heifer, and four sheep.” Yeshiwas says. “The income from the nursery business enabled me to cover input and output costs for my maize and wheat production.” 

For smallholder farmers like Yeshiwas, diversifying income sources in this way helps mitigate many of the risks associated with traditional crop farming, such as market fluctuations and adverse weather conditions.

Providing training for thriving nurseries

In addition to providing seedlings, One Acre Fund provides tree nursery managers with ongoing support and guidance through knowledge sharing and resources. Our field officers regularly visit the nursery and farmers' fields, assessing the progress of the trees and providing tailored advice to address any challenges or concerns. 

A One Acre Field officer assists a smallholder farmer to plant trees in his field.
Field officers provide ongoing support to smallholder farmers within their communities. 

This personalized support empowers both tree nursery managers and farmers to make informed decisions and overcome obstacles, contributing to the likelihood of success in their tree growing  endeavors.

“One Acre Fund provided me with seeds, nursery materials, and the initial funds to start the business,” Yeshiwas says. “Field staff regularly visit my nursery sites and provide me with technical advice. I will continue the nursery business for years to come. I’m grateful for all the support from One Acre Fund and the government.”

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Every tree planted is so much #MoreThanATree for the farmer who plants it.

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A tree nursery manager in Ethiopia sits among his tree seedlings