Rice is the main cash crop in the Ngoketunjia Division in the North West Region of Cameroon. As such people rely on the sale of rice for basic necessities such as school fees and medicines. So when one of the women's groups approached us and talked to us about the problems with their rice farms, we were compelled to investigate.
When we investigated we found that yields on the farms were extremely low. For 2007, only 2% of farms produced yields of the expected level of 6 tonnes/ht or above. In fact half of the farms surveyed had yields of less than 3 tonnes/hectare.
So we asked the farmers to explain their problems. Over 49% of farmers stated that they could not afford or needed assistance with fertilizers. Based on field studies the recommended volume of fertilizer to be applied is 250-300 kg/hectare of a combination of N-P-K and UREA. For 2007, 54% of our surveyed farms had less than 150 kg/hectare of fertilizer input.
Apart from fertilizers we found that the farmers face problems of lack of development in terms of irrigation, pest control and weed control. The combination of these factors destroy harvests.
Then we looked at technical services and training. Only 36% of the farmers had received formal training in rice cultivation.
So, we have built a consortium of 6 partners who will work together with the farmers to try to find sustainable solutions to these problems. The partners are LUKMEF, Forest and Agro Forestry Promoters (FAP), Partners for Community Development Initiative (PCDI), Upper Nun Valley Development Authority (UNVDA), MEUKOH Bamunka Development Union(MEDU) and we are pleased to welcome the Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP) to Africa and to Cameroon.
Although a framework of this many partners can be daunting, each partner brings an important facet to the program. PAN AP provides technical expertise by introducing ecological cultivation techniques that can break the cycle of dependency on fertilizers. LUKMEF brings a wealth of experience in project management and implementation in rural Cameroon FAP brings experience of field work from the Ngoketunjia wetlands (where rice is grown). PCDI will provide administrative services in the rural Ngoketunjia region. The UNVDA (Upper Nun Valley Development Authority) provides sustainability and growth. The traditional councils MEUKOH Bamunka Development Union (MEDU) brings community participation and representation.
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Our aim is to empower the individual farmers as a means of developing the community.