Mrs. Mendo’s story in her own words (translated by Gaston Bityo).
Mrs. Mendo Antoinette was one of the first farmers in Cameroon to try the Inga system. Here is her story in her own words, translated by our Cameroon partner, Gaston Bityo.
I was invited to attend the very first training session on Inga Alley Cropping that Mr. Gaston Delor BITYO has organized in Yaoundé. I was among the first 20 farmers to be trained on Inga Alley Cropping. That was in 2009.
At that moment I didn’t know what Inga Alley Cropping was all about but I showed my interest in that project, because not only I am interested in everything concerning development but also I am a widow farmer with children I need to be interested in everything that concerns agriculture.
I then cleared a piece of land as Mr. Bityo showed us during the training session few months later, exactly on May 10th, 2010 I received my first Inga seedlings and planted them as they told us at the training.
The first thing that surprised me was that when The Inga seedlings have started to grow every person who was passing by would stop to look at the trees and would ask ‘’What kind of tree is this?’’ and I would answer ‘’it is Inga’’. Nobody knew what Inga is even myself. That was the first time we see the Inga. The only thing I knew was that this tree is very useful it can help us kick off poverty as I was told during the training session.
But today I can say I am the most happy woman in Cameroon, I am the first woman to be decorated by the Cameroon Government because of Inga. I am also the first farmer whose Inga plot has been pruned and maize already sown. All that I want to see now is how maize is growing and how the production will be.
I am very optimistic concerning the Inga project in Cameroon, and I am sure that the Inga project will certainly help us to alleviate poverty while preserving our beautiful environment. This is an agriculture technique I promised to adopt and I do think all the farmers around will also adopt this technique because we can see the first results.
The Inga project will not only alleviate poverty and preserve the environment it will also help to solve land problems because one can grow crops at the same place for many years.
We thank Mr. Bityo who brought the project in Cameroon and especially here at Allen , Bengbis. We really thank the ‘’White Woman and Man’’ who are helping us through this Inga project. We had the honour to welcome them here in our village Allen.
Thank you all for everything you are doing for us.
Mrs. Mendo was very happy to try a farming method that enabled her to grow crops right next her house by re-fertilising the badly degraded land there. The forest elephants had just destroyed her crops in the forest, but they did not come right up to the houses so now her crops would be safe.
Since writing this in 2012 Mrs. Mendo has increased her Inga plot size three fold. It was originally only 300 m2 with 200 Inga trees. Now it is 900 m2. She has had great harvests over the years. She spends much time caring for it and growing her crops in it, mostly maize because that is a staple crop and RFS encouraged the farmers to all grow maize at least to begin with so that we could make comparisons between the different farmers and the conditions of their farms. But she has grown other crops like pepper too.
Gaston Bityo has followed her up and reports that besides getting food from the plot she is selling Inga pods and seedlings. Her plot is right beside her house which is next the road so that people going past stop to look at it. So she is improving her living conditions and that of the grand children that she cares for through the Inga project.
She thinks that the Inga project is a very good project. She regreted that the Inga project came when she was getting old. She says that if she had had the Inga when she was 25 or 30 she would have done marvellous things with it. So the Inga project is very important to her. She now has more food in the house. and has improved her incomes by selling Inga pods and seedlings.