Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Millet without a Mill: After receiving cereals from RELUFA, locals request grinding mill from Government

Despite availability of millet, there are no grinding mills
(News Watch Cameroon), Maroua June 8, 2013-The network for the fight against hunger and poverty in Cameroon, RELUFA, has set up new ‘community grain banks’ in some parts of the Far North region where extreme hunger is sapping life out of inhabitants.
Since 2006 the network has been constructing warehouses in the hunger hot spots where the staple food of the people, millet, is donated and stored.
Villagers borrow the cereal during tough times and repay in kind during harvest periods.
42 villages in the Diamare and Mayo Tsanaga divisions of the region now use the services of some 25 banks now operating there.
Mbozo-Kaé, a village with over 450 inhabitants whose bank was set up with 60 bags of millet bank in 2011, jubilated during a field trip to the region by RELUFA and some journalists, members of the Association of Cameroon Journalists for the Promotion of Agriculture and Development, AJAD.
But the community is requesting that the nongovernmental organization should do more.
“We have the cereal now through the bank but we do not have where to grind it”, says Mrs Hawa Sali, vice president of the Kagley Common Initiative Group, the local partner of RELUFA in Mbozo-Kaé.
The people still use the archaic stone mill to crush their millet, she explained.
This is followed by search for water in Ouzzang or Douroum, neigbouring villages that are found five kilometers away. Like water, there are no health centres and schools in Mbozo-Kaé.
Mr Bouba Sodje said the extreme hunger faced by the population of Mbozo-Kaé has led to an alarming rural exodus.
“We the men have to leave the village to town in search of survival”.
Ftang-Ouzzang, another village in the Meri subdivision of the Diamare division is essentially made up of women.
Madam Jeuness Dazi, delegate of a RELUFA partner, DIAKO Common Initiative Group, told journalists that their grain bank and a community farm does not satisfy everyone.
“We cannot be satisfied because our neighbours also come asking and we have just 85 bags of millet from RELUFA”.
Assistance from the ministry of agriculture has been very limited, Mrs Dazi claims. “They once gave us the S35 fertilizer but it has been long”, she said.
The president of DIAKO CIG said their bank has a capacity of 450 bags of cereals but they have only 85 bags which their neighbours who come from distant villages benefit from too.
“We need a two bulls to plough our community farm and another grain bank to be constructed in the neighbouring village to stop them from coming and asking from us”, says Madam Dazi.

Different division, the same problems

The food crisis spans Mbozo-Kaé through Douroum and Ouzzang in the Diamare through Mbiga-Zidim in Mokolo, Mayo Tsanaga division,
Besides subsistence farming, the population of Mbiga-Zidim also practices cattle and sheep rearing, though on a small scale.
In 2006, the population of the village grouped itself into a Common Initiative Group called Sarmatao with principal objective to fight against food insecurity in the area. That same year, they benefitted from the community grain banks project with the donation of 60bags of cereals.
According to the CIG’s delegate Dawaï Pierre, before the RELUFA project, some inhabitants of the village were slaves to others. He explained that they used to borrow food from their neighbours at very high interest rates and during the harvest season, all their food was used to pay back the stacked-up cereal debts.
However, the 60 bags of millet donated by RELUFA cannot serve the entire village, the president said. More so, some members borrow and during harvest season they still do not have good yields.
The president of Sarmatao said they are envisaging payment with cotton in place of millet.
Apart from RELUFA, the president said no other organization has ever come to their succor. Like the other communities, the diet of the population of Mbiga-Zidim is not varied.
“We would have loved to change our diet but we don’t have [other foods]”, says Kosma Ayuba, an inhabitant of the village.
According to Yuguda Dawaï another inhabitant, if RELUFA had not come to their aid, he would have died.
“I can only have 3 bags of millet every year but I am father of eight, how can you feed eight children with just three bags of millet”, he lamented.
Though RELUFA’s grain bank project has not solved the food insecurity problem of inhabitants of the Far North, it has nonetheless cut back its negative impacts.
The hunger stricken villages have called on the government and development partners to join RELUFA in the fight against the devil called hunger.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi

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