Shy and quiet, Tari’s demeanor hides a will that is strong and persevering. As young mother of six children, Tari moved to Wolebo kebele in Kumure, a small area in Guji, with her husband 10 years ago. Her husband had heard that the demand for coffee from Guji was growing, and when he got the chance to buy some land, he did. The young couple moved to Wolebo kebele with their children and Tari’s husband planted their first coffee seedlings, as well as some corn and teff.
Tari was 25 years old at the time. She and her husband had previously reared cattle and grown other cash crops in their first farm. They still owned the cattle and the farm, and since it was not too far between their new home in Wolebo and their old one, they would split their time caring for both their old and new investments. Tari’s husband heard about Tesfaye and began selling his coffee to Tesfaye’s washing station.
Two years into their new life, tragedy struck, and Tari’s husband passed away. Suddenly alone with six children, Tari found herself overwhelmed. She had to take care of the coffee, the cattle, and her children. Refusing to let the situation dictate terms, Tari persevered.
Although life in Guji is not complicated, it is busy for Tari. When it is time to tend to her coffee trees, she is in the fields working. When it is not harvest season, she goes back to her old residence to take care of the cattle. Her children are at school in a small town 17 km away. She rents a small house for them and sends them to school there. “So, I hardly have any time”, she says, explaining that she is always moving between her farms, her cattle, and her children.
Talking about changes she has seen during her lifetime, Tari says, “When I was a child, when someone got sick, we’d have to carry them a long way. Now, vehicles can reach many places, and it is possible to get to a health center much easier. In the past, there were no schools. Now, it is much easier to teach our kids.” Environmentally, she explains that most people here, especially those growing coffee, do not destroy the Guji zone’s natural forest cover. “We keep the trees, and we have plenty of rain”, she says.
She worries about providing for her children, and the fact that she is doing this alone. Like many smallholders growing coffee in Ethiopia, the rising cost of living in the country creates a tough situation. Since global coffee prices are relatively stable, the annual rise in income from her coffee does not match the annual rise in expenses due to the country’s double-digit inflation rate. However, Tari’s hard work and perseverance have ensured that things are improving for her and her children. “Things were good until my husband died, and then I had a difficult time. But now, things are improving”, she says.
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