Forestry and Farming a way through: Aloe Vera the green gold amongst us

Green Eritrea

For countries located in the arid, semi arid and mountainous parts of the world, like my country Eritrea; cutting trees and clearing forests to create farmlands seems the only option to feed the population. Although the approach sustains the food security of the population for a short time, the merciless cutting and destruction of forest resources have resulted in environmental degradation and expansion of desertification. Land is exposed to erosion and the fertile part of the soil has been depleted.

Therefore to combat this alarming situation and having realized the precarious conditions of the environment different sectors of government have been involving in a strategy of seizing farmlands from the population and reforest them. Still this approach meets a strong opposition from the population whose live hood is completely dependent on farming. It seems as if there is no way in collaborating the need of the population and nature.

The spark of Enlightenment

Two years ago, I visited my mother’s village in Obel, a farming village of recently cleared forests. Fortunately for me there was a village assembly going on. The villager’s discontent with the recent policy of the government to seize their farmlands and reforest it was clear on their faces, voices and speeches. There was an environmentalist- a technocrat- who gives a long scientific speech on conservation and environmental awareness that is not understood by anyone -except a fellow environmentalist, that is me.

The villagers were quite, bored and some of them sleepy. It was not until their turn to speak that the uproar began. A much respected elderly stands and start to speak; he says “We love our trees and forests! We live in it for generations! It is a source of food, firewood and security for us! But we also need farmlands to feed our children! Human life is more important than trees! You are trying to value trees more than our life…… and broke in tears.

What happens after that is a murmur, some wailing and crying. I can imagine the plight of the villagers and I can’t stop agreeing with the environmental expert. I vow to myself there has to be a solution to the dilemma. There has to be some way through, to conserve the environment and at the same time to satisfy the farmers.

A way through

Later on I come up with a strategy of, planting multipurpose species. This is because planting multipurpose species will provide the assurance of growth, an economic benefit and environmental sustainability. My mind goes to Aloe, a species that has been demonstrated it’s multipurpose for centuries. Most Aloes have some medicinal or commercial value, but it is the Aloe Barbadensis Miller (Aloe vera or “true Aloe”) plant which has been of most use to mankind because of its multiple benefits. Cultivation of Aloe vera has a multiple objectives that include Health benefits, productive and social welfare benefits, soil and water conservation, environmental Provision and Tourism. It is one of the most versatile plants in the surface of the Earth.
For those with a little interest in plants, Aloe vera is a perennial, species of Aloe, native to Africa. This species is now popular both with modern gardeners and commercial farmers. I am sure you will have it in your garden, shampoo or some other cosmetics. Next time you are using a plant-extract cosmetic product, please look for Aloe vera in the ingredients.

I choose Aloe vera not only because it is simple to grow, but also it is a native crop that grows naturally in most parts of the country, including my mother’s village. Eritrea has the right climatic conditions, diverse ecology, an arable land and concerned government sectors to carry out successful Aloe vera plantation. The Aloe vera can be cultivated in hillsides and mountains, around coastal areas, in community closures and in modern farms. If we effectively utilize this plant we will be one of the greatest producers in the regional and international markets where the demand is sky rocketing.

Why do I launch this project?

My primary objective of this project was to meddle between humans and the environment -what a peace keeper. My other objective was my country Eritrea, a country that has been damaged by long term colonialism, war for independence and natural problems. I owe too much to the people and a country that provides me a free education in which otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to afford. My project is a contribution: in addition to the promise held by the Eritrean people and government to heal this damage –another lame excuse to launch my scientific research.

The result

My project was an instant success, as long as the villagers promised to reforest the degraded land the village administration and the National government agreed to give the people their seized land. At the same time the people start to reap the benefits of the plants. This year they sold their first cultivation to the market. Now everybody has his farmland and a fat amount of money in their pocket and they don’t have the wrenched face that I have seen during that memorable day of village assembly. I become a local hero in my mother’s village and my trips to that village become constant and pleasant– everyone wants to invite me to his house.

The future

I am planning to introduce this project to the wider community. There is a constant discussion with the policy and decision makers of the government to implement the project nationwide. The future of the project is to reduce poverty by exposing farmers to Aloe vera farming and its value addition for income generating and poverty alleviation within the semi arid lands of Eritrea.

Now for people who only knows Gold can be found only inside earth, they have a reason to call Aloe Vera “The Green Gold”.

Blogpost and photo by Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu (Asmara, Eritrea) – angesomteklu(at)


This post is entry nr #7 in our #WCA2014 blog competition. The five blogposts with the most and highest votes will receive a signed copy of the book "Trees for Life". The most popular blogpost will get an iPad.


This blogpost received 4,809 votes, with an average score of 5 (out of a max of 5).

If you have questions or remarks on the project described in this post, please leave a comment below. Please also rate the other blogcompetition entries!

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85 People have left comments on this post

» Sham Abraham said: { Jan 16, 2014 - 07:01:25 }

This work of research is brilliant. As my close friend when Angesom told me he is writing a blog about his research. I was expecting a little bizarre research report. But he showed me once again he has a skill not only as a writer but also as a mastery blogger.

» yonas gebre said: { Jan 17, 2014 - 03:01:04 }

this is one of the brilliant and hard working result of Asgedom and i am sure this is the beginning for his future progress..

» Theo H said: { Jan 21, 2014 - 08:01:49 }

Well done Angesom! considering the semi arid nature of our country’s geography, I have always thought of Aloe (Iqa, ዒቃ in Tigrigna) as a very viable plant to be cultivated in our country since it can surely be a good source of foreign currency. I hope your thoughts get well heeded by our ppl from the Ministry of Agriculture.

» Daniel Temnewo said: { Jan 21, 2014 - 08:01:58 }

Wonderful job Mr. Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu.

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 22, 2014 - 12:01:22 }

Dear Sham Abraham, Yonas Gebre, Theo H and Daniel Temnewo for your comments. Your comments are very inspiring!

» Sirak B said: { Jan 22, 2014 - 02:01:00 }

Highly inspiring and meaningful project than can change the lives of thousands of people. I would like to say I am inspired by Angesom. Well Done and our nation is indebted to you.

» Merhawie said: { Jan 22, 2014 - 08:01:08 }

What an awesome project. I hope it finds emulation and further development!

» Seble Ephrem said: { Jan 22, 2014 - 08:01:20 }

So the humble Aloe (I’Qa or I’re) is the undiscovered treasure that was lying there unappreciated for as long as the life of the earth? Well done Angesom on your research so far ….. nor should this be the end of the road….keep on going up with our Green Gold!

» BESHIR said: { Jan 22, 2014 - 09:01:52 }

good job Mr Anghesom. innovative farming.

» Teddy sheda said: { Jan 23, 2014 - 01:01:42 }

Ajoka anebsa. Amazing article and good job brother. We will Vote for u also .

» senait Tirfe said: { Jan 23, 2014 - 06:01:50 }

well done Mr. Angesom. very interesting and clever approach to solve the problem between the villagers and the environment.

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 23, 2014 - 07:01:55 }

Sirak, Merhawie, Seble, BESHIR,Teddy and senait; thanks for your comments. I understand the big part of the job left undone and this is only the start.

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 23, 2014 - 07:01:03 }

Dear Seble Ephrem: As you have put it in your words “the humble Aloe ( I’re) is the undiscovered treasure that was lying there unappreciated for as long as the life of the earth”. But now is the time to mine our Gold!

» Raki Raquelle said: { Jan 24, 2014 - 05:01:21 }

Eritrea definitely needs your expertise. Great job Mr Angesom G.

» Amanuel said: { Jan 25, 2014 - 12:01:34 }

Great article, interms of content and purpose, besides presentaion skills! Sub Sahara needs this type of initiative and hardwork to bring working minds together. Keep it up brother Ngesom!

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 25, 2014 - 05:01:56 }

Thanks Raki Raquelle. I appreciate your comment!

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 25, 2014 - 06:01:44 }

Dear Amanuel;
Thank you for your through analysis. I hope i will somehow try to meet the great responsibility bestowed upon me.

» L. TESFAI said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 03:01:05 }

This is a great project and one that has to be implemented by our Ministry of Agriculture. You are a true son of Eritrea, one that is still attached to her soil, the environment and wellbeing of her citizens. God speed in your endeavor.

» Nardos Abbay said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 04:01:19 }

Best of luck to you, Angesom! You’re a brilliant mind, and you have my vote!

» Melat Gual Sawra said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 06:01:19 }

Gobez warsay! You’ve got a bright future ahead of you, put our country on the map! #ERITREA

» Yonas Manna said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 06:01:18 }

Well done and keep the good work up.

» Hadnet said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 07:01:49 }

Angesom, great job!!! I am proud of you!!

» windshield said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 01:01:08 }

Dearest Anghesom it is a timely article specially when it comes using aloe vera as a herbal medicine. Thumbs up for you brother and keep it up.

» Yordanos Mehari said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 03:01:25 }

Great article and excellent input! Shame I can’t rate the post 100 times :) We need more people like you! Ajokha and Best of Luck, Angesom!

» Eden Kebede said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 03:01:19 }

Angesom, Well done and keep the good work up! Good luck!!

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 09:01:19 }

Dear L. TESFAI ;
Thank you for the compliment and surely the ministry of Agriculture will implement the project!

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 09:01:56 }

Dear Nardos Abbay and Melat Gual Sawra;
Thank you for your encouraging words!

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 09:01:19 }

Dear Yonas Manna,Eden Kebede and Hadnet;
Thank you for your comments!

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 09:01:23 }

Yordanos Mehari;
Thank you for your comment. Of course we will make a difference we want to see!

» Semhar B said: { Jan 27, 2014 - 11:01:08 }

Good job and keep it up, Angesom!

» Johannes A Yemane said: { Jan 28, 2014 - 10:01:27 }

This is brilliant idea. I remember that this specific plant growing all over without anyone tending or watering it and now that there is a way that it can be put to use in such important matter is satisfying to see. Keep up the good work. Voted for you of course.

» Johannes A Yemane said: { Jan 28, 2014 - 10:01:34 }

This is brilliant idea. I remember this specific plant growing all over without anyone tending or watering it where I grew up back home and now that there is a way that it can be put to use in such important matter is satisfying to see. Keep up the good work. Voted for you of course.

» Berhe Kifle said: { Jan 28, 2014 - 01:01:41 }

Good job, Angesom! Eritrea needs people like you.

» Bereket G said: { Jan 28, 2014 - 03:01:48 }

Good job brother.

» Mohamed McNamara said: { Jan 28, 2014 - 10:01:40 }

Angesom, this is a very brilliant, innovative and visionary idea; It has great potential to transform agriculture and deforestation challenges of the future & you are very smart to think of this solution. I hope you become successful with this project. It has commercial application. I also hope you find sponsors for your project. Tell us, what can I do to help; what can we do to help you along beyond verbal support and votes.

» Gerrie Lijam said: { Jan 29, 2014 - 04:01:07 }

Excellent research & very infomative analysis of Eritrean endeavour in resolving environmental needs & solutions.
Impressive educational research & application in preserving the environment & sustaining customary traditional lifestyle.
Thank you for the hard work devoted & dedicated in deeply researching the social implications & government policies in preserving the environment & sustaining local lifestyle.
Cheers, Well done.

» Berhane Araia said: { Jan 30, 2014 - 05:01:20 }

Good luck wedi ERE, we are by your side.

» Sesin Seyoum said: { Jan 30, 2014 - 06:01:34 }

Angesom, this is inspiring and also exemplary. Your work will be engraved in the Eritrean history books. Well done and all the best.

» Dawit Tekeste said: { Jan 30, 2014 - 10:01:19 }

We wish you all our best & we all are with you go Anghish go Anghish

» Aster Tekle said: { Jan 30, 2014 - 02:01:09 }

My Brather , well done and keep up the good work ,

» Dr Berhan Andemicael said: { Jan 31, 2014 - 04:01:20 }

Well done Angesom. Imaginative and practical, reminiscent of the ingenuity of the Eritrean freedom fighters, who crafted an inexpensive field microscope. Join the many unsung heroes from Eritreans and other Africans making unique contributions world wide. Your achievement is inspiring.

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 31, 2014 - 10:01:44 }

Dear Semhar B, Berhe Kifle, Bereket G, Berhane Araia,Dawit Tekeste , Aster Tekle and Sesin Seyoum.
Thank you for your comments. Your comments will so empower me!

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 31, 2014 - 10:01:04 }

Dear Johannes A Yemane;
This plant is our natural gift and finding a way to use it is our duty.

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 31, 2014 - 10:01:47 }

Dear Mohamed McNamara;

Thank you for your through analysis and your offer to help. The plan is to reduce poverty by exposing farmers to Aloe vera farming and its value addition for income generating and poverty alleviation within the semi arid lands of Eritrea. But that is not the end. I once the project finds its success in my country Eritrea, I am sure it will find an application to transform agriculture and deforestation challenges of the future any where on the planet.

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 31, 2014 - 10:01:49 }

Dear Gerrie Lijam;
Surely trying to find a solution in between is a hard job. Thank you for your analysis.

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Jan 31, 2014 - 10:01:43 }

Dear Dr Berhan Andemicael;

I really appreciate your comments although they are too much to handle. comparing me with the reminiscent of the ingenuity of the Eritrean freedom fighters. I broke into tears…..

» Edena said: { Jan 31, 2014 - 06:01:33 }

Aloe Vera is a truly wonderful plant with no shortage of members for its fan club. It has a very long and well established reputation as a healing plant, particularly for skin conditions, minor cuts and abrasions. The dried latex, which is not the same as the gel, but instead derives from the yellow juice contained in the pericyclic tubules of the inner leaf is a well known laxative. And I am glade you consider this plant in your project Angesom .

» Mitzlal said: { Jan 31, 2014 - 07:01:58 }

Kudos to you for all your hard work and determination . Proud to see my people excell on all aspect that life has to offer.

» merih tsegai said: { Feb 2, 2014 - 12:02:20 }

Sustainability, a key to success . Am proud of you my brother. .

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Feb 2, 2014 - 08:02:19 }

Dear Edena;
Sensational explanation, and an intensive analysis. Thank you for taking a time to comment.

» Angesom Ghebremeskel Teklu said: { Feb 2, 2014 - 08:02:15 }

Dear Mitzlal;
Thanks so much for supporting my idea.

» Suleman said: { Feb 2, 2014 - 12:02:06 }

Great message and good luck brother

» Dr Mahesh Chander said: { Feb 4, 2014 - 12:02:28 }

Happy to vote to someone who is promoting Green Gold-Aloe Vera!!!

» Abrash Teklu said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 03:02:38 }

Well done Angesom,Highly inspiring and meaningful project,keep it up!!

» daniel said: { Feb 5, 2014 - 04:02:40 }

God bless you brother. I am sure you have the backing of our entire nation including myself. Keep up the excellent work.

» Daniel Asmerom said: { Feb 6, 2014 - 03:02:14 }

This is an exceptional work. I am extremely proud of your fruitful job. Keep up the Great work. GBU

» zeresenay gebremeskel said: { Feb 8, 2014 - 06:02:34 }

Excellent research and brilliant idea .keep it up bro i am really proud of you.

» Abrahaley said: { Feb 8, 2014 - 07:02:23 }

Happy to vote to someone who is promoting Green Gold-Aloe Vera!!

» Abrahaley said: { Feb 8, 2014 - 07:02:48 }

i am very happy to elect Angesom Ghebremeskel!

» abraham teklab said: { Feb 8, 2014 - 07:02:36 }

i am very happy to elect Angesom Ghebremeskel!

» Rutta Tekeste kidane said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 07:02:14 }

I really happy to vote you, Angesom. You are the most industrious person I have even know. you are full of dreams with a strong driving motivation. I know this the least you can do in your life.. I m proud of u , keep it up!!

» Abraham said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 08:02:23 }

I am very happy to elect Angesom Gbremrskel!

» betty said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 01:02:27 }

Wanderfull job….proud of u

» Halieb Andemichael said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 01:02:24 }


» Solomon said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 03:02:50 }

Great job proud of u!

» khalid said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 03:02:06 }

Best solution for New generation good luck

» merih said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 03:02:37 }

i am believe this article more powerful message to development thanks to Angesom Ghebremeskel

» Tedros Aregai said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 04:02:04 }

Excellent Idea and fruitful project , proud of you:Angoesom Gbremeskel!

» Mengistab russom said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 04:02:07 }

God bless you brother . good job keep it

» Tedros Aregai said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 04:02:50 }

Love It !

» Eyob said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 04:02:06 }

Angosom, you are doing a wonderful job the beloved nation needs people like you. Once you dream and planned it, you will achieve it.

» Rahel said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 04:02:16 }

I willingly contribuite my vote for your excellent idea, hardwork and future realisaton of the project which could be a common wealth for the people and the country by itself. Good Luck!

» Henok Kinfe said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 05:02:15 }

Excellent project. Well done Angesom! Trust other researchers follow your footsteps and carry out researches that can have immediate impact on the grass root communities.

» Bereket T. Tsegay said: { Feb 9, 2014 - 05:02:51 }

Great initiative!

» Mike said: { Feb 10, 2014 - 12:02:58 }

Excellent research! We got your back wedi Eri and wish you best luck.

» Hillal said: { Feb 10, 2014 - 01:02:27 }

Job well done! It seems the future and destiny of Eritrea are assured.

» sam said: { Feb 10, 2014 - 01:02:11 }

Brilliant project. Angesom well done

» Tesfamariam said: { Feb 10, 2014 - 03:02:42 }

Great job. Well done.

» Abraham Teweldeberhan said: { Feb 10, 2014 - 04:02:14 }

Great job angesom we proud of you

» robel ghebrehiwet said: { Feb 10, 2014 - 04:02:01 }

Good job bro, keep it up!!!

» dawit simon said: { Feb 10, 2014 - 06:02:16 }

I wish you best luck

» emnet said: { Feb 10, 2014 - 08:02:11 }

I alway feel happy to see possitive thinkers like you.well done bro.nd proud of you.

» Mussie K.Dighe said: { Feb 10, 2014 - 09:02:01 }

I appreciate your plan and I wish the others who have same area of specialization follow the initiative and work together for a change to occur.

» Lul said: { Feb 10, 2014 - 04:02:01 }

Well done. may I suggest one thing… Each region is blessed by a native plant, perhaps your project can be implemented for more plants for the main purpose of conservation. There are many cost effective herbs and shrubs that can be planted as borderlines to separate farming plots.
In addition, another thing to consider is stratified reforestation. Trees don’t make the forest; diverse plantation in a plot do. One of the many missing action plan is efficient planting of reforestation. Stratified. Many plants are available in abundance that have “non-human purpose” herbs, shrubs to trees…etc that can be utilized. Forestation is not just about trees but all levels of greenery.
Soil conservation= (rich soil+ water storage capacity + diverse plant population).
Well done for putting your ideas and passion to works. We support you!!!

» Freweiny said: { Feb 11, 2014 - 06:02:17 }

Excellent project. I wish you more success.

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