Adolph Njokwe is a maize farmer in Muyuku, in the Southwest region of Cameroon. There have often been droughts on his four-acre farm, which not only affected his production but also the quality of his saved seeds.
But last year, his harvest more than doubled. He harvested eight tonnes of maize in 2017, which compares with 3.5 tonnes in 2014.
He says the increase is “… thanks to the quality seeds from multiplication farms. That is why I am glad about the initiative, which I think should be encouraged nationwide to help local farmers.”
The seed multiplication farms are part of a government program implemented by the Southwest Development Authority. The organization created the farms to improve access to and supply of quality seeds for a variety of crops, including maize, cassava, beans, yams, and plantain.
Christopher Ekungwe is the regional delegate of agriculture for the Southwest Region. He says, “For agriculture to be successful, it starts with quality planting material.”
Many farmers save seeds from their previous harvest. But Mr. Ekungwe says saved seeds lose vital qualities if they are affected by prolonged drought, and often do not produce as much as the improved seeds offered by the Southwest Development Authority.
He adds, “We are happy the seed multiplication farms are expanding, as many more farmers from other parts of the country are attracted to the high-yield seeds.”
The Southwest Development Authority distributes more than 70,000 tonnes of maize seeds, 20,000 tonnes of bean seeds, and 15,000 yam seeds from the multiplication farms. The quantity is increasing as more farmer groups register with the project.
So far, more than 70,000 farmers in 63 groups have benefited from the program. Each group pays 50,000 FCFA ($88 US) for the disease-resistant seeds from the multiplication farms, much less than what farmers would pay from sources such as research centres.
Divine Nkeng is a 33-year-old farmer in Buea. He says, “We now get the regular supply of quality and adapted seeds at affordable prices, thanks to the seed multiplication farms.”
But it’s not just seeds. Farmers also receive low-cost inputs and free training, and Mr. Nkeng says the combination of good yields and training is attracting more youth to farming.
Andrew Eneme Ngome is the chief of the Southwest Development Authority. He says: “Seed security is food security. That is why we provide not only planting materials but also insecticides to farmers in the region early enough at affordable prices ahead of every planting season—to prevent them from resorting to low-quality substitutes at exorbitant prices elsewhere.”
Each farming group receives 110 litres of liquid fertilizers, 500 litres of herbicides, 375 litres of insecticides, and 600 kilograms of maize seeds.
Farmers say the project has relieved their worries about plummeting yields linked to climate change, and that their production and income is increasing significantly.
According to a July 2017 World Food Programme report, food shortages and child malnutrition have both escalated in recent years in Cameroon, particularly in the northern regions. In two decades, the country has gone from being largely self-sufficient to a large-scale importer of basic foods, according to Cameroon’s largest farming organization, Association Citoyenne de Défense des Intérêts Collectifs.
Benard Njonga is the CEO of the organization. He says, “When farmers have the right material for greater yields, the results are always positive.”
This story was adapted from an article titled ”Seeds of Resilience in Cameroon,” originally published by InfoCongo. To read the original article, go to: http://infocongo.org/seeds-of-resilience-in-cameroon/