By Paul E. Kode
1000 Producers were elated when they were assured of government support to sustain their output as the nation’s bread basket. This assurance was pronounced by the representative of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development during the highly successful 2016Southwest Farmers’ Feast, in Buea.
Although the MINADER Scribe, Mr. Eko’o Akoafane Jean Claude, who represented the Minister was physically present, the Minister’s address was read by the Chief Scribe in the Southwest Governor’s office, Mr. Clement Fon Ndikum.
He disclosed that the Southwest population counts almost 1.5million inhabitants, of which 70% of them live in rural areas. As such, they are compelled by natural circumstances to be industrious as they eke their living solely from agriculture. Fortunately, he observed, they are blessed with good soil and very favourable climate. Notwithstanding, the Chief Scribe affirmed that government was cognizant of the challenges faced by Southwest farmers, such as alternating climate change and zonal enclavement. He however exhorted the farmers to remain optimistic because the authorities have embarked on measures to dis-enclave certain corridors in the Southwest region such as Bachuo-Mamfe-Ekok, Kumba- Bachuo and others, in accordance with the national road infrastructure plan.
On behalf of MINADER Mr. Ndikum persuaded the farmers, who he described as the bedrock of production, to embrace second generation farming techniques. He stressed that it will greatly maximize their output, while the all-important processing aspect will enhance their food value chain in the long run.
Dire Need For Farmers’ Bank
Speaking earlier, the Southwest President of Farmers’ Plat Form, PLANOPAC Mr. Ndedi Bau Akama Makia thanked the government for the fertilizer inputs sent to his fellow farmers in 2016. But, like Oliver Twist, he lamented that the demand far outweighed the miniscule supply.
The PLANOPC mouthpiece expressed dismay on the nonfunctioning of the very belated Farmers’ Bank in the Southwest region, that had been hoped for over the years. Nevertheless, Mr. Ndedi Makia articulated the wish for government to increase the number of seed multiplication technicians to meet up with the growing need for improved variety planting material. Another worry he addressed was the dire need for modern cocoa drying ovens. He bemoaned that a cocoa buying company had discarded thousands of tons of cocoa in the southwest region in 2016 because the beans smelt of smoke. There was therefore urgent need for the immediate installation of either electric or solar drying ovens (or both) to be provided to cocoa farmers in particular and others, in order to curb the decades long post-harvest loss syndrome. The Southwest Producers’ spokesman appreciated GIZ and SOWEDA’s sustained assistance to farmers and expressed the hope for the imminent renewal of the eagerly anticipated Rumpi Project, or its equivalent.
200 assorted agricultural prizes were awarded to deserving producers at the end of the three day, hectic 2016 Farmers’ Feast in Buea. First Prize for Cassava Tubers was claimed by a farmer in Toko sub division, Ndian. That for Cocoa Beans went to Upper Banyang, Manyu.
In attendance were the Southwest MINADER Delegate, Christopher Ekongwe, Walters Andu of MINEPIA, James Enang, Technical Adviser in the Ministry, including other Directors, Regional Delegates, Traditional Rulers, over 1000 exhibitors and a cross section of the Buea population.
The ceremony was punctuated by choral renditions and rhythmic traditional dances. It should be recalled that the well-orchestrated 2016 Southwest Agricultural Show in Buea displayed giant size items. They included agricultural, animal husbandry and non-forest timber products.