Friday, May 31, 2013

Food Production: Cameroon so blessed, yet so cursed

Jaff Napoleon Bamenjo

Cameroon is endowed with fertile land and an abundant natural resource base that would contribute enormously to development and solve food insecurity most parts of the country if well harnessed and exploited.
But “corruption deprives a majority of the population from benefiting from the wealth of the country”, notes Jaff Napoleon anti -poverty and hunger activist.
The coordinator of the Network for the Fight Against Hunger in Cameroon (RELUFA) was speaking in Yaounde on Wednesday May 29 at the opening of a workshop to drill journalists on a project dubbed “communication on food insecurity in the Far North Region of Cameroon”.
According to him, the 7.125.000 hectares of arable land and the 70% of the population of Cameroon that practice family agriculture can feed the nation. But food security and sovereignty remains a problem.
“Disparities within the country make the northern region most affected by food insecurity and hunger”, he says.
The one-day workshop at the head office of the network in Yaounde was aimed at provoking a policy discussion on food insecurity in the Far North Region of Cameroon.
According to a 2011 World Food Program report, the rate of food insecurity in the Far North region of Cameroon stands at 17.9%, followed by the North with 14.6% while the East region is third with 10.3%.
Against this backdrop, RELUFA started a project in the Far North region known as “community grain bank”.
The association has built community grain storage houses where food is stored. “When households run out of food, they can come and borrow from the grain banks and repay in kind during harvest periods”, says Mr Jaff.
Through the program, food has been available to the local communities of the 42 villages where the project is being implemented since 2006 in the Far North Region, journalists were told.
However, experts say the solving the problem of food insecurity requires a chain value.
Mr Jaff argues that “management is outstanding”.
The acute problem of food insecurity in the Far North Region of Cameroon according to Sandrine Bikelle, Programs Assistant at RELUFA is caused by both natural and structural factors.
Climatic conditions like continuous drought as well as floods are some of the natural factors that account for the poor yields and high rate of food insecurity in the Far North region of Cameroon.
She argues that poor management of harvests by peasants, illicit exportation of farm produce by peasants and insufficient access to farm inputs by farmers also contribute greatly to the problem of food insecurity that the region faces.
Sandrine Bikelle 
The acute food insecurity faced by the Northerners has caused most of them to reduce their daily food consumption, resort to cheap and less nutritive food and reduce expenditure on non food services like education and health amongst others.
Sandrine Bikelle says, “these have a negative impact on the population as there is feeble intellectual and economic growth due to low scholarization”.
The introduction of the community grain banks by RELUFA has not only helped ensure food availability all year round as “some agribusinesses are seeking negotiations with local communities while communities or individuals affected by the projects have received compensation” says Mr Jaff Napoleon.
Attendees of the Yaounde workshop were members of the Association of Cameroon Journalists for the Promotion of Agriculture and Development, known in its French acronym as AJAD.
According its president Thierry Djoussi, AJAD promotes agriculture through communication amongst others.
They would in the days ahead visit the Far North Region to acquaint themselves with field realities.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi

No comments:

Post a Comment