Anne Mireille Nzouankeu | October 14, 2013
Heavy rains near Lake Chad often lead to floods which devastate farmers’ fields. But farmers in northern Cameroon have joined together to build community granaries which protect their harvests from the frequent deluges. One of these farmers is Ousmanou Garba.
Holding an empty basket in his arms, Mr. Garba walks towards a large building. He exchanges a few words with the site manager and then signs a document. A few minutes later, he emerges from the building with a basketful of millet. He explains, “I came to this community granary to get some of the millet that I have been storing.”
Mr. Garba is a farmer from the village of Dougui in Cameroon’s Extreme North province. He grows millet and groundnuts.
The region is prone to heavy rains which sometimes wash crops from the fields. Even when farmers manage to harvest their crops, they often cannot afford to store what they have gathered for very long.
Mr. Garba found himself in this discouraging situation. He says: “I almost quit farming because I felt like I was wasting my time.” But the community granary has given him hope. He says: “This season I lost some of my crops, but that which I stored from last season is still there. At least I will not die of hunger. ”
Mr. Garba and other like-minded farmers organized themselves into a Common Initiative Group, or CIG. CIGs are comprised of people who come together voluntarily to work at the grassroots level for their own development and that of their communities. The community granary where Mr. Garba stores his millet is entirely run by farmers in the CIG.
It is usually too expensive for individual farmers in Dougui to build concrete granaries on their farms. So the farmers decided to band together and build the granary in a safe and dry location, away from watercourses to protect it from flooding.
Now, members of the CIG can deposit their surplus harvest in the community granary. They are free to take some of their harvest home or carry it to the market to sell at any time.
Farmers who are not members of the CIG can also benefit from the granary. Maimounatou Vandi is a farmer in Dougui. She says, “Once I had to borrow some maize from the community granary. I will replace that grain, with an additional fifth in interest, after my next harvest. I think it is a good initiative.” She would like to join the CIG after her next harvest.