OVER 15 TECHNICIANS RECEIVE TRAINING ON FG DESIGN AND ESTABLISHMENT
The Cameroon Program of US Charity, Trees for the Future has officially launched the Forest Garden approach in Cameroon. The event which took place in the form of a two-day training workshop on Forest Garden design and establishment held from January 28-29, 2014 in Buea. The workshop brought together over 15 Field Technicians from different regions of Cameroon who will be guided by the Trees for the Future team to spearhead the approach in their communities.
Opening the workshop, the Director of Trees for the Future Cameroon, Louis Nkembi explained that seven years ago Trees for the Future Cameroon also known as TREES Cameroon started to train farmers to plant trees in Cameroon and develop a culture of agroforestry . “With time the program focused on developing additional skills and farmers started restoring their tree cover, developing seed banks and increasing their yields through improvement on the fertility of their soils” Louis said.
He explained that in a bid to continue to improve on the living standards of farmers, TREES Cameroon decided to launch a new approach called the ‘FOREST GARDEN’ which will increase and sustain food security, explore income generating opportunities in an environmentally sound manner.
In a presentation during the training workshop, the Cameroon Program Assistant, Neba Kingsly defined the forest garden as a system that incorporates fruits, fodder, fuel, and timber species as well as other food crops together in a horizontal and vertical design.
Neba Kingsly explained that this is achieved through diversification of crops both for better food availability, farm product marketability and adoption of improved land management techniques
“The Forest Garden approach will allow farmers to sustainably meet their needs and produce a marketable surplus. It will equally help them to avoid the risk of economic dependence on one, or very few, crops and will continually provide food and other products” Neba Kingsly explained. The system will equally allow nature to provide organic fertilizers and pest controls
“It would consist of at least four (4) distinct vertical layers which will include annual subsistence and cash crops as well as tree species, shrubs and vines. The Forest Garden may also include other agroforestry technologies (e.g alley cropping, contour planting, live fences etc). Animal species may form one of the layers’ Kingsly Neba went on.
Reacting to this approach, one of the Technicians from the West Region, Youmsi Justin said this new approach is more profitable. “Before, we use to plant just trees and crops. Given that the forest garden permits us to integrate the trees with other trees like fruits, vines and even animals, it will really help to boost our income. I think this will work well because farmers who used to resist tree planting will see now that there are more benefits. It will help to balance our diet and keep our families healthy”
Another Field Technician, Kum Nicholas from the Northwest said it is a very remarkable step to alleviate poverty. “We have done tree planting before but with the forest garden there will be more benefits. When we started the tree planting, we innocently put one or two bee hives in the farm. From the trees planted, we are able to get honey, fuel wood and our crops are really doing well. The forest garden will make a big difference, those crops that we did not put under the trees will be put now such as yams, plantains and animals. Fuel wood gotten from the farm will also help curb the shortage of wood”. Kum Nicholas said. He equally explained that the Forest Garden will help their families to be self sustainable. He lauded the efforts of TREES Cameroon for bringing technicians together to educate them on forest garden.
By Regina Fonjia Leke