Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Agriculture Students Research In Soppo –Likoko, Fako
By Mike Achanyi-Fontem
Faculty of Agriculture
University of Buea
South West region Cameroon
Soppo -Likoko village was the focus of the farmers outreach research activity of agriculture students of the Anglophone University of Buea, in the south west region of Cameroon from the 9th-16th February 2012. The field trip consisted of selecting a village and discussing small scale farming activities with the inhabitants and identifying the village extension agent and the zonal extension worker assisting the farmers in the expansion of activities in the village. The students were asked to describe the farmers’ experiences working with the extension workers and to learn the extent to which the extension agent was able to address the agricultural and the non-agricultural concerns of the farmers.
Soppo-Likoko is a small village fount above the foot of Mount Fako with over 572 inhabitants. The village has a total surface area of about 62 hectares and the population is involved in basically subsistence farming.
According to Pa Ngalle Lionga Edwards met on the field, men, women and youths are equally involved in agriculture and all practice various cropping systems with the hope of getting good yields.(no specificities in farming activities).
He explained that when there is excess of production as compared to expected yields, the surplus is taken to the market and marketed by the women and the youths. Furthermore, in this community, women like men are given equal right to land ownership. Both have equal rights to land purchase in the case where the land is not inherited by the buyer.
Though there is no clear distinction between men, women and youth farming activities in Soppo- Likoko village, very few youths are actively involved in farming activities due to rural-urban exodus.
The people in this community face a lot of problems, but the three top needs/demand which farmers would like extension workers to address are: the supply of electricity and the improvement of transport facilities to evacuate farm products to markets. Soppo Likoko population is in ardent need of a health facility to care for th sick in the village. Concerning the issue of electricity, prior to the presidential elections of 2004, AES SONEL planted electric poles, which have never seen the installation of supply transformers. This problem has resulted to rural-urban migration of the young farmers who want to listen and play music, watch Tv, and listen to radio regularly like their peers in the big towns and cities of Cameroon.
Being at the foot of Mount Cameroon, the village has a crude dark rocky and black earth motorable road that goes through Tole, where Cameroon tea is farmed and packaged. The road which links the village to its major Soppo market is non-motorable due to several obstacles including pot holes and an uncompleted bridge, which is not good vehicle circulation. This makes it difficult for the farmers to transport their produce to the market. Mr. Ekema Andreas told the story of the loss of about two baskets of tomatoes out of five in the course of transporting his farm earned yield to the market.
Soppo-Lokoko village has a population of about 572 inhabitants. Since it has no health centre , persons who fall are forced to move long distances to get to the nearest health centres. In case of emergency or illness, it is often difficult to find a solution. We were reported the case of a pregnant woman who gave birth on the uncompleted bridge, that was pinpointed by Mr. Ngalle Edwards, an elder of the village, when describing the worries of the population.
The people of Soppo-Likoko have been opportune to have two extension workers. There is an extension worker for livestock rearing activities and another for crop production. The activities of the crop production extension worker consists of coaching farmers on new methods and techniques of planting plantains, corn, oil palms among others crops grown in the village. The livestock extension worker in the village is from ISEFA, which is a branch of agriculture related to livestock research.
The livestock extension workers in this community is introducing new methods of rearing pigs, which include confining the pigs in a particular area, applying better feeding methods that require feeding the pigs twice a day.
Role of Extension WorkersExtension workers attached to the South West region of Cameroon have been attributed into the following extension zones of action: BOJONGO, BYIYUKU, BOLIFAMBA, LYSOKA, MUEA, BOKOVA and BONAKANDA
Soppo-Likoko is under the Great Soppo area which falls under Bolifamba.Based on the fact that Bolifamba has only one extension worker, who is Mrs. Ayuk Ernestine Ayuk, her tasks are multiple due to the fact that she has so many areas to handle among which is Soppo- Likoko.
According to Mr. ELAME GERMAIN, Delegate of Agriculture in the South West region met on the field, extension service operates through the TRAINING AND VISITING SYSTEM (T&V),where a technical package is delivered to the farmers based on their needs which are gotten from the farmers in their different groups. Some of the groups are:
Farmers House CIG Soppo led by Mr. ANDRE
Vegetable Women CIG led Mrs. B. REBECCA and
Socio-economic Venture CIG
According to Mrs. CATHERINE MAKA, the extension agent for Tole, BYIYUKU, during the October and November 2012 period, the package for next year is planned and established.
The 2011 package included the following:
Rapid multiplication of plantain suckers through the PIF Technique in propagator, which has proven to be the most successful Theme/package, as this has contributed greatly to the availability of High-Quality-Plantain suckers for FAKO, MEME and other divisions in the South West region of Cameroon.
Rapid multiplication of Yam seedlings in Great Soppo through the MINISETT Technique.
The control of CECOSPORA in Plantain which has also been successful. The control of CECOSPERA in Citrus plants (oranges, lemon, lime, grapes).
The problems faced by the extension workers include the following:-
Insufficient finance for transportation and fuel.-
The reluctance of farmers to adopt innovations
Sharing of Experiences
The experience men, women and youths receive working with the extension worker in this village was observed to be very limited. On the part of the youths, it was observed that they failed to attend meetings, giving as excuse that they had to go to school.
For the men and the women, very few attended meetings. This is due to the fact that the extension worker failed to fulfill their promises such as providing farmers with farming materials like hoes, water cans, rain boots, cutlasses, trucks, wheel barrows and other items. It is best practice that farmers of this community are assisted. The communication between the extension worker and the villagers is not fluid, since the interest of the extension worker is in the production of export crops, which he considers pay more for a long period. The smallholder farmer is more interested in the improvement of food crops production.
The package presented to them by the extension workers is in accordance with their needs though they think differently. However, Failure in the fulfillment of objectives is due to several reasons, amongst which, is the fact that the crop extension worker visited the village only after one or more years, while the livestock extension worker visited the village after three months. It was realized that the farmers were not willing to participate, given that they expected the government to solve all their problems, without their contribution.
From the information received on the field, the three major agricultural and non-agricultural needs of each category of farmers are as follows:
For men, farming equipment, transport facilities and health facilities
For women, health facilities, transport facilities and farming equipment and for youth; electricity, transport facilities, and health facilities in the above order of priority.
Non-agricultural problems faced by each group of farmers in the Soppo-Likoko village include the need for a health centre and electricity.
These are problems that none of the extension workers has been able to address. Meanwhile, for the agricultural problems like inaccessible roads, and the lack of equipment, the extension workers made promises, which were never fulfilled. The smallholder farmers have through community labour succeeded in constructing a non-motorable bridge, which makes it easier for them to transport their crops to the market.
From above, it is observed that the farmers of this community are seriously in need. Though they have been struggling to solve some of these problems themselves , they still need governmental assistance.
Mike Achanyi-Fontem is subscribed to Farm Radio Weekly and leads the Cameroon Link Youths Club.