Gaston has been working very hard to bring the benefits of the Inga alley cropping system to the poor farmers in Cameroon. He grows the seedlings near his house in Yaoundé so he can care for them. How long does it take him to look after 500 seedlings? In the dry season he has to water them twice a day an hour each time, but before he can water them he has to fetch the water, again an hour each time. The watering is easier in the rainy season.
Gaston says his biggest problem is transport. The seedlings have to be transported sometimes several hundred kilometres to the farmers. Once the farmers are well established they can in turn promote the system to their neighbours. But to get them established Gaston has to visit them first and provide them with the seedlings. So we are now fund raising for a vehicle for him. It is an absolute necessity, and very urgently needed.
Cameroon Inga Project Part 1
By Gaston Delor Bityo
VOLUNTEERS SERVING DEVELOPMENT (VSD), CAMEROON AND RAINFOREST SAVER (RFS), UNITED KINGDOM, JOIN HANDS TO IMPROVE THE LIVING CONDITIONS OF RURAL FARMERS IN CAMEROON THROUGH INGA ALLEY CROPPING SYSTEM.
Africans in general and Cameroonians in particular live in very difficult conditions. Many of them (around 85%) live in rural areas in extreme poverty. They lack money to send their children to school, they can't afford medical care, they live in slums... in one world they face a very bleak future.
Gaston delivering a barrow load of Inga seedlings to a farmer, and a Cameroon farmer, his wife and child, who are benefitting from the Inga. Photo by Gaston Bityo 2010.
The main activity for those rural people, to make their living, is agriculture. Unfortunately they are still practicing traditional agriculture technique which is slash and burn agriculture. But this technique not only it destroys the soil and the environment in general but also it doesn't give a good yield (harvest) at the end.
That's why, in 1997, we have decided to create ‘'VOLUNTEERS SERVING DEVELOPMENT'', a nonprofit organization, to better the living conditions of those rural farmers by training them in income generating activities and new agricultural techniques.
We started by training them in fruit tree domestication (grafting, cutting and marcotting or air layering) to create fruit tree nurseries to sell fruit tree seedlings or to create orchards to sell fresh or transformed fruits.
Planting fruit trees. Photo by Gaston Bityo.
In May 2009, we got in touch with RAINFOREST SAVER to start the Inga Project in Cameroon.
Since we started the Inga project in Cameroon in 2009, with the technical and financial support of RAINFOREST SAVER, to train farmers in INGA ALLEY CROPPING system, many rural farmers are very interested in that agricultural technique. Some of them know the Inga tree, they have it in their localities, but what they didn't know is that Inga is very useful for them and can make them to improve their living conditions. Others even know neither the Inga tree nor the Inga alley cropping system. They didn't hear about this agricultural technique before.
When we talk about the advantages of the Inga Alley Cropping system to farmers and when we show them pictures of farmers doing Inga Alley Cropping in other localities like Honduras and their good results, they know that they can also overcome poverty through this new agricultural system.
Gaston teaching farmers about the Inga, and posters used to illustrate the technique. Photo by 2010.
We started by training 20 farmers in Inga Alley Cropping system and 10 of the 20 farmers are now doing Inga Alley Cropping in their respective localities in the Southern region of Cameroon and are very proud of this agricultural technique. The first results will be available very soon.
A widow very happy to have received some Inga seedlings. Photo by 2010.
The 10 others are still waiting for us to have some money to produce more Inga seedlings and to transport the Inga seedlings that we now have in our nursery in Yaoundé to their localities to start the Inga Alley Cropping system that they hope, will improve their living conditions and that of their children and the whole family.
Delivering the seedlings with a hired truck and on Gaston's head. Photo by 2010.
We also do hope so. The only thing we are afraid of is that we will be unable to satisfy all those farmers waiting for us to start the Inga Alley Cropping in their respective localities. The people are there to do the work, the technique is there, but we lack money and means of transport to better serve the rural farmers.
The 20 farmers we have been training in Inga Alley Cropping system and those we have been meeting at the Ebolowa Conference Show (this will be described in the next newsletter) believe that Inga will certainly improve their living conditions and that of their family.
We seize this opportunity to really thank RainForest Saver for their technical, material and financial support and everything they have been doing so far and everything they will be doing in the future to make the Inga Project a reality in Cameroon.
Farmers are now putting their hopes in this important and useful Inga project to better their living conditions and that of their children and the whole family.
Together let's make their dream become a reality.
Gaston Delor BITYO; Cameroon Inga Project National Coordinator
Volunteers Serving Development (VSD)
P.O.Box: 14920 Yaoundé, Cameroon
Tel: (+237) 2203 50 14 or (+237) 7732 23 64 or (+237) 9775 20 86