Over 1500 farmers belonging to some 250 farm families in the Western Highlands of Cameroon have benefited from the Trees for the Future Cameroon Program in 2013. They have continued to tell stories of how their lives have improved since the Trees for the Future Cameroon Program introduced them to the use of multipurpose trees for soil health improvement. The Farmers were speaking recently during an evaluation trip by the Trees for the Future Cameroon Program in November. Mr. Gemoh Denis, a rice farmer in Ndop, NW region could boast of making his greatest harvest of maize in a farm where he practices the alley cropping technology. He confirmed harvesting over 50kg of maize in a piece of land that was considered barren some years back. Further, he said a cup of some of the maize he harvested produced 0.5kg when threshed. He also affirmed that the maize tasted better than those he planted in the rice field without using the leguminous trees.
Mr Ayong Thomas, another farmer in Kugwe, Momo division, NW region shares a similar story. “When I came in contact with Trees for the Future in 2011, I went back to my community and immediately established a farm following the alley cropping technology. Today I can boast of selling pineapples harvested from my farm for over FCFA 50,000. This is money I used in paying my children’s school fees. This year I have expanded my farm and planted 4000 trees and I will continue to plant and encourage others in my community.’ Said Thomas.
A great proportion of the Cameroonian population are engaged in agriculture yet their production continues to stagnate and this has resulted to most of them living below the poverty line of US$1 per day. This low production can be attributed to the primitive agricultural practices these farmers engage in. Most farmers in this region still practice slash and burn agriculture and shifting cultivation which are both unsustainable. Lack of finances and limited extension services are equally contributing factors to this drop in production. The coming of the US Charity, Trees for the Future to Cameroon and the introduction of the planting of multipurpose trees for soil health improvement 6 years ago ushered a new impetus in the way farmers carry out their activities. Through the introduction of improved agroforestry and sustainable practices, the lives of thousands of small holder farmers have greatly improved.
In 2013, the program continued to grow not only in numbers and impact. A total of 4500000 seeds of agroforestry species including; Acacia angustissima, Leucaena leucocephala, Calliandra calothyrsus, Moringa oleifera, Neem, Prunus africana, Date palms, Podocarpus sp were sourced and distributed to these farmers. After a series of workshops on seed pre-treatment, nursery construction and management in March and April, over 102 nurseries were established and about 3000000 seeds raised.