Ebolowa Agricultural Show: An opportunity for VSD-Cameroon to promote The Inga Alley Cropping in Cameroon and Africa.
At the initiative of the Cameroon government, an Agro pastoral Show was organized at Ebolowa, southern Cameroon from January 17 - 22, 2011.
An Agro pastoral show is a place where farmers from all the 10 regions of Cameroon come together to show their agricultural products.
As we have already said, farmers in Cameroon are still doing slash and burn agriculture.
Slashed and burned. Honduras. Photo by Richard Seal, 2011.
Volunteers Serving Development (VSD) seized this opportunity to participate and to promote the Inga Alley Cropping system in Cameroon. Thanks to the material, financial and technical support from RainForest Saver.
Ebolowa agricultural show. Photo by Gaston Bityo 2011.
At Ebolowa, we were surprised of the so many farmers who came to visit our stall (stand) and followed the explanations we have been giving about the Inga Alley Cropping system. Many of them (men and women) signed the book (name, phone number and where to contact them) prepared for all those interested in the Inga project. At the end of the show we found that around 454 farmers (men and women) from every part of the country, came to visit our stand and were very interested in the Inga project and would like to start an Inga plot in their localities.
Visitors at the show studying the posters on Inga with interest. These were in English, French and Bulu. Photo by Gaston Bityo 2011.
Another big surprise was that of His Excellency Mr. Paul BIYA, President of Cameroon, who visited our stand and followed the explanations about the Inga Alley Cropping system in mother tongue (Bulu). He also was amazed about what Inga can do and took a copy of the brochures in Bulu we have been distributing to farmers.
We want to mention here that the Cameroon Head of State is also a farmer and now knows that there is an Inga project running in Cameroon.
Visitor to Gaston's stand. Photo by Gaston Bityo 2011.
The Show lasted 6 days and 454 farmers visited our stand. That means an average of 75 farmers per day visited our stand and followed the explanations about the Inga Alley Cropping system we have been giving. The Show opened at 9am and closed at 5pm that means we have been receiving and explaining the Inga Alley Cropping system to an average of 10 farmers per hour.
Visitors to the stall and having a good look at the Inga plants. Photo by Gaston Bityo 2011.
The farmers who were helping Gaston at the show wearing T-shirts with the logos af Volunteers Serving Development of Cameroon, and Rainforest Saver. Photo by Gaston Bityo 2011.
All those farmers are waiting for us to start Inga plots in their respective localities.
Before the Ebolowa Show, the Cameroon Inga Project was available only in the South region of Cameroon, but after Ebolowa, our future plan (5 years plan) is to extend the project in other localities to satisfy not only the 10 farmers left from the 20 we trained in Inga Alley Cropping system before but also some of the farmers who visited us at Ebolowa and are very interested in Inga Alley Cropping and want to start the Inga project in their localities for a total number of 110 farmers.
Chatting with the visitors to the stall. Photo by Gaston Bityo 2011.
The farmers will start with small plots (30m x 26m) = 780m2, that can take around 200 Inga seedlings each. So we will be producing around 22,000 Inga seedlings for 110 farmers.
To produce the Inga seedlings, we have an Inga tree in Yaoundé and other Inga trees in the South region (Ambam), these Inga trees can give the 22,000 Inga seedlings we need to give to farmers.
For this year (2011), we will produce 2,000 Inga seedlings to satisfy the 10 farmers left and as from next year (2012) we will be producing 5,000 Inga seedlings each year to satisfy 25 farmers per year until 2015. Then we will evaluate the project and see what we have done so far and what remains to be done for the next 5 years.
Growing Inga seedlings under a palm leaf shelter. (Photo by Gaston Bityo 2010.
But the real problem we face here is to transport Inga seedlings to farmers. Some Inga seedlings (around 500) are now available in our nursery at Yaoundé to distribute to people and we continue to produce others, but we have no money, no truck to transport the Inga seedlings to farmers. Public transport is very expensive here and hiring a vehicle to transport the Inga seedlings to farmers is more expensive. Furthermore Inga seedlings are always damaged when we use public transport. Sometimes we have to use motorbikes to transport the Inga seedlings; sometimes we carry them on the head...That is very difficult.
Transporting Inga seedlings. Photo by Gaston Bityo2010.
If we have a vehicle (some kind of pick-up truck) to transport Inga seedlings, that would be for a very very big help and the work will be a little bit easy and farmers will be happy to receive their Inga seedlings in very good conditions.
The Cameroon Inga Project will certainly:
- Alleviate poverty in Cameroon in particular and Africa in general: farmers and their families will eat more good food, and sell the extra food from their farms and get some money to solve some of the many vital problems they have (send their children to school, afford medical care, build decent houses)
- Solve soil erosion problems due to slash and burn agriculture
- Protect the environment.
A farmer's - Gaston's own - family, with Inga pods. Photo by Gaston Bityo 2010.
If the Inga project is not realized in Cameroon and may be in Africa, we will be, myself and the many farmers I want to serve, the most unhappy men and woman in the world, because our objectives will not be achieved:
- To better the living conditions of the farmers and their families through the Inga project.
- To protect the soil from erosion
- To protect the forest from slash and burn agriculture
- To solve land problems (conflicts) in families.
The Ebolowa Show helped us to make the Inga project well known in Cameroon and many farmers (and myself) have now put their hope in that important and useful Inga project. Will we be able to satisfy all the farmers who want to start the Inga project in their localities?
That's the question.
Gaston Delor BITYO; Cameroon Inga Project National Coordinator,
Volunteers Serving Development
P.O.Box: 14920 Yaoundé, Cameroon
Tel: (+237) 2203 50 14 or (+237) 7732 23 64 or (+237) 9775 20 86
Inga seedlings. Photo by Gaston Bityo 2010.