No. 89 Follow up of the Baka Inga project. Part 2.
By Gaston Bityo Delor | Ultimas Noticias No. 89 June 2018

Our crowd funding last summer was very successful. It funded the training of the Baka (pygmies) in Inga alley cropping at Lakabo by Gaston Bityo.. At the time we said that if there was extra money Gaston would proceed to Mindourou to give another training there. However when it came to it, Gaston  found that such a trip would be very difficult, not having at first realized that there is no accommodation for himself and his assistant, Denis, at Mindourou. The Baka are small sized people, while Denis and Gaston are not. They could not be put up easily in a Baka village.

So instead we paid for two people from Mindourou to come to Lakabo for the training, and have used the rest of the money, with some extra, for a very necessary follow up trip to the Baka. Here is Gaston’s own account of that follow up trip.

Follow up trip to the Baka at Abong Mbang

By Gaston Bityo

After breakfast on Wednesday 2nd May Denis and I left Yaoundé around 9:00 am and reached Abong-Mbang around 4:00 pm. We took a break at Ayos for fuel and food.

 

Before leaving Yaoundé, and again at Ayos, I called Leonard, the Baka man we work with, and told him that we are on the way to Abong-Mbang. As soon as we arrived in Abong-Mbang I called Leonard again and he came, in his new vehicle, to welcome us. As we were very tired we all went immediately to the Hotel. This was the same Hotel where we stayed before. We made plans with Leonard to meet up again early the next morning to visit the farmers. Then Denis and I had a bath and some food, and went to bed after our usual evening prayers.

 

At 7.30 on Thursday morning the 3rd of May we were ready to go to Lakabo. Leonard came over with Aimé Besingui, one of his collaborators in Abong Mbang. They told us that they had distributed about 200 seedlings to a village called Akok Maka, but had not distributed the seedlings from the nursery to the farmers because they hadn’t had the means to do that.  So we decided to go to Lakabo first to identify which farmers wanted them, and to visit the school to see the Inga that was planted there earlier. Then we would go back with the seedlings the next day to distribute to the farmers. We thought that it would still be raining so the Inga could be planted out.

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:tiiuimbimiller:Inga Project:Website_Newsletter:June 2018:WebSchool_at_Lakabo.jpg

 The government primary school at Lakabo.

 

Then we all had breakfast together and bought some food for the Baka: bread, milk , sugar, etc… Unfortunately Leonard said that he was not going with us in Lakabo, because he had an important meeting in Bertoua with their other collaborators. But he promised to come back the same day. So we went to Lakabo with Aime.

 

On the way to Lakabo we met a farmer who was at the training in Lakabo last time (September). We stopped and asked him if he wanted the Inga seedlings, with his other brothers, to put into application what he learned at the training. He was very happy to see us again. Then he said ‘’Of course he would like to have the Inga seedlings’’ I told him that we will bring him some Inga seedlings to-morrow. We continued to Lakabo. The road to Lakabo is not very easy at all, especially during the rainy seasons.

 

We found the children at school with their teachers, and some other people in their homes next to the school in Lakabo.  After the usual welcome ceremony, we had a short talk with the teachers and the other farmers to ask them if they would like to receive the Inga seedlings and start their own Inga plots. Three people were identified: two new teachers from the school (There are three teachers now at the Lakabo Primary school) and one farmer. The director of the school is the one managing the Inga plot we planted at the training with one other farmer. Then, we went to the forest to visit the Inga plot.

 

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:tiiuimbimiller:Inga Project:Website_Newsletter:June 2018:WebInga_sept_planting.jpg

Inga that was planted at the training in September 2017. Growing well but needs to be weeded.

 

The Inga we planted the first time we went to Abong Mbang (March 2017) in the school cocoa farm is growing very well. The Inga we planted at the Lakabo training (September 2017) is also growing well, but is in the weeds. They didn’t clear the Inga plot and there is weed everywhere.

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:tiiuimbimiller:Inga Project:Website_Newsletter:June 2018:WebInga_first_planting.jpg

Inga planted at Gaston’s first visit in March 2017 growing very well.

Then we came back to the village and went to visit the 3 different sites where the 2 teachers and the other farmer would like to start their Inga plots. They had already cleared the site, but hadn’t yet dug the holes. Aime Besingui promised to show them how to do that. Then we came back to the school to meet with the Baka and to give them the things we brought for them. Then we took the road back to Abong Mbang. As soon as we reached Abong Mbang, we had some refreshments with our friend Aimé. We agreed that we will go back to Lakabo at the same time, 7:30 am, the next day. 

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:tiiuimbimiller:Inga Project:Website_Newsletter:June 2018:Web4-people.jpg

The director of the Baka school, a Baka man, Denis and Aime.

 

The next day Friday the 4th of May, we got ready for 7:30 am and Leonard and Aimé joined us. We went to Aime’s house were the Inga nursery is and put the 400 Inga seedlings in the truck. Then we bought soaps and salt for the Baka and took the road again to Lakabo with the Inga seedlings in the truck.

 

First we gave 100 seedlings to our friend who was at the training with his 2 brothers. Then we continued to Lakabo with 300 Inga seedlings. The children unloaded them and kept them under a mango tree behind the school where they will be taken for planting as soon as possible.

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:tiiuimbimiller:Inga Project:Website_Newsletter:June 2018:Webcooking.jpg

The children do different activities at the school. This one is cooking.

 

Then we had another meeting with the Baka people to give them again the things we bought for them. But this time we made it a condition that before a Baka would receive a piece of soap and salt, he must go to work at the school Inga plot first. Everybody agreed with that. We gave the soaps and salt to the director of the school to give to everybody who will go to work at the school Inga plot. Then we left. We arrived at Abong Mbang late in the evening under a very heavy rain.

 

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:tiiuimbimiller:Inga Project:Website_Newsletter:June 2018:webBaka_man_wife.jpg

A Baka man and his wife.

 

There are now no more seedlings in the Baka nursery. But they would like to grow more to give to more farmers. Rainforest Saver hopes to be able to provide a little more money for that soon, for when the trees that were first planted start to provide seed, to support the nursery and to help with the distribution to the farmers.

 

On Saturday the 5th of May 2018, we decided to bring the truck to the garage at Abong Mbang before leaving because there was a strange noise under the truck. At the garage the mechanic found what was wrong, but he could not fix it immediately because there was no electricity in Abong Mbang. He said we could not reach Yaaoundé if the problem is not fixed. So either we had to wait until the electricity came back, or find a place where there was a generator.  We chose the second option. Unfortunately that was an old generator that could not work well. But the mechanic decided to do the work. It was not easy at all and thank God he finally fixed the problem after a very long time. It was too late to take the road back to Yaoundé so we had to spend another night at Abong Mbang.

 

In conclusion, The Inga we planted at Lakabo the first time we went there (in March 2017) is growing very well and we think it will produce fruits very soon. So the seeds will be available locally. The Inga plot we started at the training (in September 2017) is also doing well but is not well managed. There are weeds everywhere. But we gave instructions to clear the Inga plot and they promised to do so.

In general the follow up trip to the Baka in Abong Mbang went well. The only problem we had is the truck. This truck is very, very old and it takes a lot of money for fuel and repairs.