The updating of our work in Cameroon has been done by the newsletters, so we recommend that you see these links to follow the progress in Cameroon.
We have been fortunate to receive two grants for training local people in Cameroon to become trained Inga promoters. The last of the above newsletters gives an account of the training at Kumba. The next training at Yaoundé has just been completed at the time of writing.
January 2014 Some of the progress made in 2013
To follow the progress in Cameroon over the past year please also see our newsletters, particularly
Nos. 45 and 46 ‘The young are the future’ and ‘Wanted, a school with courage …’ which tell about educational efforts in Cameroon, and
No. 41 ‘Progress in Cameroon’
Training farmers in how to do Inga alley cropping without providing them with the means to do it – Inga seedlings – is likely to lead only to disappointment. So creating Inga nurseries is vital. Several thousand seedlings have been distributed from Gaston Bityo’s nursery at Bizang, which accommodates up to 10,000 seedlings. Recently this has been substantially restocked.
Restocking the Bizang nursery: filling black plastic bags with forest soil, and planting Inga seeds, with the family to help. Photo Gaston Bityo 2013
Lots of seed bags, and two charming young ladies with an Inga pod. Photo Gaston Bityo 2013
But when it come to spreading the Inga technology Bizang is a very long way from the Mundemba region where there is substantial interest from 8 villages. A local man, Linus Arong, is able and willing to oversee and promote Inga there. He has started a small nursery, but what is needed is to enable him to build a substantial nursery and have it well stocked with Inga from the different sources of seed in Cameroon.
Map of Cameroon to show progress of promoting Inga to farmers and where Inga nurseries have been started, though some are small.
Also Gaston Bityo needs to give training to farmers from these villages and to ensure that Linus Arong is very well trained to oversee the project. Then there will be a substantial Inga project in that forested region of Cameroon, but without the need for Gaston to keep making the very difficult and expensive trips there.
Delivering seedlings to Mundemba, and the inevitable consequences of driving on what passes for a road up there. Photo Gaston Bityo 2012
Meeting people at Mundemba. Linus Arong and Gaston Bityo in front. 2013
Kumba is not as far from Yaoundé and Bizang as Mundemba. Gaston was able to bring seeds to Kumba, some as pods and some in a bucket of water. See text for how that worked out. Photo Gaston Bityo 2013.
There are two other community leaders, Atanga Wilson at Buea and Prof. Tabouguie at Kumba, who have also started Inga projects. The problem of getting seed or seedlings to them was not as great partly because there are Inga trees near Buea, and partly because the road from Yaoundé to these places is not as terrible as from there to Mundemba. However, there was not enough seed at Buea, and also we want to have a good mix of seed from different sources, so Gaston delivered some more to Kumba. It is hard to carry the seed as it rots easily if left in the pod, and quickly dries out and becomes infertile out of the pod. As an experiment, for the two day trip from Bizang to Kumba Gaston took some as pods and some in a bucket of water. The secret of success was to change the water at times so that it did not overheat in the tropical heat. Both lots of seeds germinated well in Prof. Tabouguie’s nursery, but the ones in the pods were hard to extract, so Gaston recommends the bucket of water method.
Prof. Tabouguie’s nursery. Photo Prof. Tabouguie Alphonse
Besides starting three farmers with Inga plots Atanga Wilson has started educational work with primary and secondary schools, teaching the rural students about sustainable farming with Inga.
Secondary school students planting Inga. Photo Atanga Wilson.
Primary school children beautifully lined up waiting patiently to plant their precious seedlings when the photo is taken. Photo Atanga Wilson 2013.
The previous report (below) described Mrs. Mendo’s success with the first Inga plot in Cameroon. Since then that plot has been pruned and re-sown, harvested, pruned and re-sown and the third harvest is due any day now. Also Gaston Bityo’s own plot at Bizang has been pruned and harvested twice, as has the comparison plot there. In all cases at least three times as much crop has been obtained from the Inga plot as from the comparison plot. These experiments are continuing.
Plot of Olou'ou Papy at Nkoumadjap and Ela Elson at Ambam. These are two of the plots that will be ready for pruning this year. Photo Gaston Bityo 2013
All the earlier farmers have been followed up. Not all the blue dots on the map above have been successful plots. There have been some failures too, but also many good plots which will be ready for pruning, planting and harvesting this year.
Several new plots have also been started.
A very well maintained recent plot, belonging to Denis Amougou, the mechanic who helps to maintain Gaston’s truck and acts as driver on long trips. Planted in autumn 2012 and photographed in June 2013. Photo Gaston Bityo 2013.
October 2012 The story of the first maize grown in an Inga alley in Cameroon in pictures. The plot belongs to Mrs. Mendo Antoinette
Gaston Bityo delivering Inga seedlings from his nursery to Mrs. Mendo Antoinette, 2010. Her house is not on fire. They cook on open fires without chimneys. On the right, Mrs. Mendo is very happy to receive her seedlings. (Photos Gaston Bityo Delor 2010)
The seedlings were delivered in the dry season. Mrs. Mendo carried water from the water source on the left up the path or the right and kept her young trees watered. The path is a lot steeper than it looks in that picture. This water hole supplies water for all purposes – drinking, washing – nor can they boil it for drinking. (Photo Tiiu Miller 2011)
July 2011. The Inga have grown and closed their canopies. Gaston is standing in front of one of the alleys. You can see another alley on the left. Nearly all the weeds in the alley are dead. (Photo Tiiu Miller 2011)
Early May 2012. The Inga is pruned. The second image is early June. The maize is about to be planted in the mulch from the prunings. It is being marked out for planting. Notice stacks of valuable firewood at the back from the pruned Inga. This is a good resource for the farmer and saves the rainforest too. (Photos Gaston Bityo Delor 2012)
Early July. The maize is growing well. Notice how clear the ground is of weeds here, and compare that with the ground around the crops in the comparison plot below.The Inga is re-growing well on the sides. Too well in fact. It should have had a second light pruning to keep it from shading the maize. (Photos Gaston Bityo Delor 2012)
Well grown maize, and the harvest at the end of September. (Photos Gaston Bityo Delor 2012)
Cleaning and weighing the crop, and the essential truck without which Gaston would not be able to do his work or Cameroon’s very rough roads. (Photos Gaston Bityo Delor 2012)
A comparison plot, without the Inga, was cleared and planted beside the Inga plot at the same time as the Inga plot. The maize did grow on it, but not nearly as well. The plot is full of weeds. This was not a strictly controlled experiment, but the results were striking enough to be meaningful. 30 kg of maize was harvested from the Inga plot, but only 8 kg from the comparison plot. (Photos Gaston Bityo Delor 2012)
Gaston’s youngest, little Melanie, is helping to harvest the pepper that Mrs. Mendo also planted with the Inga. (Photos Gaston Bityo Delor 2012)
The government deputy was so impressed with Mrs. Mendo’s well kept Inga plot that she gave Mrs. Mendo a medal. Subsequently Gaston was invited to give a training talk on the Inga to a group of farmers in the district. (Photos Gaston Bityo Delor 2012)
Twenty Cameroon farmers have now got their starter Inga plots, and many more have had the training on how to do it and are waiting for the seedlings. These plots are distributed over a large area of South Cameroon. Each of the farmers also has at least one tree left to give seed both for enlarging his or her own plantation and to supply neighbours. Some of these plots are now ready to be pruned prior to the planting of maize (see http://www.rainforestsaver.org/what-is-it-all-about/what-is-inga-alley-cropping/ for how the system works).
Mrs. Mendo Antoinette has the first plot ready for pruning. It was planted in May 2010 in the dry season, which of course is not the best time to plant. But Mrs. Mendo took great care of her precious seedlings and carried water up hill from the small water supply to water them. So they have grown really well and will be pruned very soon.
Gaston Bityo in front of one of Mrs. Mendo Antoinett’s Inga alleys, and the water hole she gets all her water from. Photo by Tiiu Miller 2011.
Gaston (the Cameroon Inga project co-ordinator) was invited by the government Deputy of the town of Bengbis to attend a ceremony where Mrs. Mendo Antoinette, was given a medal. Her small village, Allen, is close to Bengbis. The medals were for people who work hard to fight against poverty while preserving the environment and for people who work hard for the development of the Bengbis region. Mrs. Mendo Antoinette was given the medal because she started the Inga project in her community and her Inga farm looks very good. It is very encouraging to see the Inga work being recognised.
Mrs. Mendo Antoinette (on the right) with the government Deputy. Photo by Gaston Bityo 2012.
The Deputy will be visiting Gaston’s nursery at Bizang later too. The nursery is completed and at the last count contained 3000 seedlings. More Inga seed will be collected and planted soon.
Inga nursery at Bizang. Photo by Gaston Bityo 2012.