1. Cameroon: A woman agricultural engineer discusses her passion for mushrooms (written by Lilianne Nyatcha, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Douala, Cameroon)

| March 2, 2009

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She spent her childhood in Nguelemedouka, a small village in southern Cameroon. As an agricultural town, it is an appropriate setting for the practical training of students at the National Agricultural School in Yaoundé, the political capital of Cameroon.

“One day,” Séraphine Angela Zambo Oyono told us, “my father made the acquaintance of some interns. They came to us and taught me how to maintain and enhance the production of my small sugar cane field, located just behind the family home.” This event created her interest in agriculture as a teenager. So it was natural that after earning her high school degree, she would enter the National School of Agronomists. The 20 years that this fifty-year-old has accumulated in the public service have been rich in learning and teaching.

In her office at the Regional Delegation of Agriculture and Rural Development in Douala, her superiors call her “Madam Mushroom.” But her closest colleagues prefer to call her “the smiley one.” Her passion for mushrooms has not escaped her superiors, who have entrusted her with the management of the mushroom project in Douala. Over the past year, her mission has been to educate and encourage Cameroonians to grow this food.

Séraphine Angèle agrees that the idea of cultivating mushrooms is growing: in one year she received 240 requests for training in growing mushrooms, 90% of which came from the outskirts of Douala. One hundred and thirty-six people were trained, an average of 45 every four months.

But without appropriate means of transportation, and poor access to funds, Séraphine Angèle, who is also president of the Cameroonian Association of Women Agricultural Engineers, says it is hard to achieve her ambitious objectives, particularly in rural areas. For example, she would like to go into isolated areas to promote mushroom growing, and extol its medicinal, nutritional and, especially, its economic virtues. She says that it is the very poor in rural areas that have the greatest needs.

With the low start-up cost of mushroom growing and a very short production cycle — 15 to 21 days –farmers can get started quickly and make money fast. In addition, these rural areas, usually moist, are conducive to mushroom growing, and can generate good yields.
Click here to see the notes to broadcasters on mushroom growing