Temperatures in Ethiopia vary little throughout the year, so the seasons are determined by the amount of rain that falls. The people in the agrarian society of Ethiopia, live in a perpetual cycle of wet and dry seasons, using ox and plow to work the land.
During the wet seasons in Ethiopia, it is about as beautiful a country as could be asked for. The rain transforms the parched earth into lush farmland, when the season starts as early as May. And, between the months of June and August it would be hard to find a greener place anywhere. Some areas of the country receive only 18 inches of rain each year, yet others receive over 100 inches.
The rain that falls from June to September, coupled with good soils, leads to abundant planting and harvesting of crops. During this time, there are rain showers every day, and farmers can grow practically anything they desire. The land produces wheat, barley, and teff. Corn, up to 16 ft at maturity, vegetables, legumes, chick pea, soy beans, zucchini, pumpkin, and cabbages are among the other crops that are grown and flourish in the fields of Ethiopia.
After the harvest, the land becomes still and the dry season sets in, and the country loses any similarity with its former beauty. The land dries out and becomes brown, dusty, and worn-out. Land, man, and plow are idle for the next six to seven months, depending on the area, as there is not enough rain to sustain any more crops. Food supplies soon become scarce and the land dries out. Nothing grows and everything starts to look like a dry putting green. The cattle overgraze the land, and they soon run out of food and become naught but skin and bones.
Ethiopia’s national slogan could well be termed “13 Months of Sunshine” – their calendar runs on 13 months rather than 12. It is not always sunny, but the weather is typically ideal. During the dry season, temperatures generally reach up to 80 degrees F. Some areas of lower elevation, 2,500-3,000 feet, can see temperatures over 100 degrees F. In the winter, between August and September, it can be on the cool side but it is rarely below 45 degrees F. At 50 degrees F, most Ethiopians are freezing.
There is generally no heat or air conditioning in hotels, but the hotels at higher elevations usually provide heavy blankets in their rooms. The cool weather of his first August in Ethiopia led Evan Maxfield, an MAI staff member, to buy a jacket and a blanket, but the next year he didn’t need one. Weather and temperatures in the country vary by year, but it is generally quite pleasant.