Francesca Lanaro, the Representative of the Eco glasses firm MODO has expressed satisfaction on how farmers in Cameroon are planting trees and using agroforestry technologies to improve on soil fertility, secure their water catchments and fight global warming. She was speaking in Buea on Thursday, May 8, after a one week tour of projects sites of Trees for the Future Cameroon Program.
Ms Francesca, a professional photographer was visiting Cameroon for the first time. Her mission was to tell the story through photography of how a tree grows from a tiny seed, to a seedling and then to a big tree. Her first stop was at Batoke, Limbe in the South West Region. Here, she met with the “Oneness farming group” who just incorporated tree planting.They explained that they started planting trees because they saw the face of climate change “I remember some thirty years ago Batoke used to be cold, given that we live just a few metres away from Dibuncha, a town which is the wettest in the world. In a month like May, the atmosphere would be foggy. But the scorching sun we have been witnessing lately made us to understand there was need for action. This is why we decided to start planting trees to help reduce the amount of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere” Nimbo Samuel, Coordinator of the farming group explained. Equally, the General Secretary of this farming group, Ndengue Mathias said that they are planting agroforestry species such as Acacia and Leucaena to use the leaves as natural fertilizer for their crops.
Ms Francesca later travelled to the Northwest Region of Cameroon with the Trees for the Future Cameroon and ERuDeF team. Here she met with over 50 farmers planting trees to improve on soil fertility through agroforestry technologies. In Mendakwe, a village in the Mezam Division NW Cameroon, a workshop facilitated by Trees for the Future Cameroon Program Assistant, Kingsley Neba explained the benefits of agroforestry and the various stages involved. This was followed by an on-farm demonstration on how bare root nurseries are established and seeds sown. One of the farmers, Nfongang Francis explained how beneficial tree planting has been to him “I started practicing agroforestry in 2010. I am now three years in the project, yet I am already reaping a lot of benefits. The quality of my soil has improved since I started planting Acacia, Caliandra and Leucaena. My maize and beans have since witnessed an increase. In addition to these, the leaves of these trees serve as fodder for my pig. Planting trees and incorporating agroforestry in farming has really affected my life positively”
From Mendankwen to Mankon still in the NW region of Cameroon, farmers told the same story of increased yield after using planting trees and using the leaves as natural fertilizer for their crop. A farmer Akuma Eric, said he has moved from just using the leaves of the tree to improve the quality of the soil to selling seeds to other farmers “I now have a new source of income. Other farmers who have witnessed how beneficial agroforestry has been,now come to buy seeds of Acacia, Leucaena and Caliandra. I also use the sticks as stakes for my beans. Currently I am establishing a forest of Acacia in my farm whereby I would sell the wood as timber” Mr. Eric went on.
In the West Region, Ms Francesca met with farmers who incorporated agroforestry to replace the use of chemical fertilizers on their crop. Mr. Djeukeng Phillipe explained that he has benefited a lot from planting agroforestry trees in his farm. “I now understand that using natural fertilzers such as the leaves of Acacia helps not just in increasing the quantity of my crop but quality. I am comfortable with the food I eat knowing it is free from chemicals” Mr. Phillipe went on.
After taking pictures of trees from the seeds to when they are sown and finally the matured ones, Ms Francesca had this to say “My trip to Cameroon was a very successful one. I had the opportunity to experience how a tree grows from a tiny seed, to a seedling and then to a big tree. I believe with the pictures I took, I would be able to tell the world of the great work Trees for the Future Cameroon in partnership with ERuDeF are doing”.
Trees for the Future is a United States headquartered Charity that works to plant trees and improve the income of resource poor farmers. The Cameroon program Trees for the Future Cameroon was set up in 2007. It works in partnership with Cameroon based non-profit the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) to teach farmers how to plant multi-purpose trees for varied uses.
By Regina Fonjia Leke