Farmers in the Southwest Region have decried the distribution of expired chemicals to them as part of a trumped up campaign to fight black pod diseases in cocoa and coffee orchards.
During the recently celebrated Southwest Region 2017 Agro Pastoral Show, it was revealed by farmers that, last March’s spraying campaign put in place by the state to fight capsize and black pod diseases in cocoa and coffee orchards which was, ordinarily, a welcome move is now doing more harm than good to producers. According to Ndedi Akaba, Regional President of Southwest Farmers’ Platform, the project team mostly distributes such inputs after their expiry dates. He wonders if the intention of the state is providing producers with expired inputs.
To Ndedi, the year 2017 had been perceived as good for farmers in terms of price and production but unfortunately, they have instead witnessed a drop in production and a considerable drop in the prices of some major cash crops such as cocoa and rubber. According to him, one of the most difficult services in the production and post-harvest sectors is the collection of data and statistics. He said that the state cannot pretend to do it alone but that other organizations should also be equipped to collect data and statistics which has become a major concern in the country. He added that the long waited agricultural and livestock census decreed some years now has been overdue for action. To him, this exercise when completely done will make them know who does what and when in the country, especially, in the Southwest Region. “The banking and finance sector plays little or no role in the growth of the agricultural sector which is the backbone of the economy, all because the country does not valorize and has not officially recognized farming as a profession to enable it leave the informal r to the formal sector,” lamented Ndedi.
However, the Minister’s representative has countered that the Government of Cameroon considers the agricultural sector as a priority reasons why it has invested heavily on it with the view of developing it such that it can provide adequate jobs, create wealth and fight poverty. To her, that is why the Government after creating the Ministry of Agriculture embarked on the creation of agro pastoral shows in all the 10 regions. The event which coincides with end of year festivities according to her permits the denizens to buy foodstuff at a reduced cost, provide a platform for farmers to exhibit their best produce and receive rewards. It, also, according to her, helps farmers to enhance learning, exchanging partnership and networking. “It enhances farmers’ education and skills on production processing and storage techniques for the overall improvement of their agricultural sector. Promotes awareness, participation and motivation of farmers towards self-sufficient food production,” said the representative. She stated that this sector produces 35 to 40 percent gross domestic product and provides 70 to 80 percent raw materials to the industry.
She said that the President through his Government laid the foundation for the effective integration not only of the young farmers but other persons who will like also, to invest in the field of agriculture through numerous projects and programs. She urged those responsible for the projects to each make themselves known by all producers and to encourage and facilitate the integration of producers and their accession to different support and subsidies put at their disposals. She requested all the producers in association with individuals to get closer to the agricultural supervisors stationed in their locality so that they can accompany them in order to make benefit from all available support at the level of MINADER with a view to optimize agricultural production.
By Relindise Ebune & Nester Asonganyi