Helping the rice farmers in Ngoketunjia, Cameroon
Henry Ngimbu from the Centre For SRI Initiative (CSRII) from Zambia, travelled to Cameroon 3 times in 2013 (May, June/July and then December) and each visit was of 1 weeks duration. During those 3 trips he introduced the techniques of SRI to 3 farming groups.
Representatives from SfD (Tamara Palamakumbura, Parshav Garg and Rachel Marchal (one of SfD’s funders) travelled to Cameroon in February 2014 so to evaluate these activities. We met each of the farming groups trained in 2013; we asked for their feedback at the group level and at the individual farmer level through a questionnaire.
1. Participation: 222 farmers involved in the training
The Cameroon farmers have well established farming group structures; where the farmers run small savings schemes and co-ordinate community activity. Henry worked with 3 farming groups and introduced a technique of farmer leaders; where each leader would train an additional 5 members. Using this structure, Henry’s training reached up 222 farmers:
Tianghou Rice Farmers: 84 trained (14 Leaders who trained an additional 70 members)
Church Street Farmers: 72 trained (12 Leaders who trained an additional 60 members)
Makew Women’s Group: 66 trained (11 Leaders who trained an additional 55 members)
2. Adoption: 92% of farmers trained will use SRI again in 2014
We collected data from 73 farmers as part of the questionnaire. 68% of them tried SRI in their farms in 2013; albeit in small pilot of plots. The farmers who did not adopt SRI in 2013, did not do so due to external circumstances (such as illness, irrigation issues, they were trained too late in the farming cycle).
92% tell us that they will use SRI again in 2014; and on a larger area of their farms.
3. Initial indicators: Increased # of tillers per plant and yield reported as high as 12.8 t/h (compared to an average of 3.4 t/h without SRI)
As part of the questionnaire we collected data on the number of tillers per plant and yields. We could not collect additional data (such as the number of grains per panicle, the weight of the grains etc) as the farmers had not been collecting this data. Our analysis of the yields from the pilot plots was inaccurate due to the inaccuracy in the measurement of the plot sizes.
Regardless our data shows a very clear increase in the number of tillers per plant; the more tillers per plant; the more stalks on the plant on which rice can grow. And this therefore will result in a larger harvest. We found that the minimum average from SRI was 18, whilst the same statistics for non SRI was 6. The maximum average from SRI was 66, whilst the same statistic for non SRI was 16.
Although we could not measure the yields ourselves, it was reported to us that SRI yields were averaging 8 t/h and as high as 12.8 t/h. Whereas, the average without SRI is approximately 3.4 t/h.
4. Feedback from the farmers: Problems Faced
2013 was the first year in which SRI was introduced and implemented in Cameroon. As with the introduction of new techniques subsequent follow through and adjustment is required to ensure the successfully adoption. Therefore the problems that the farmers faced will become the focus on our activities in subsequent year.
Weeds/Pests: The farmers continue to face problems with weeds and pests which are compromising their harvests.
Manure: With SRI the farmers were taught to use organic methods and for this they relied heavily on animal based manure. The manure is difficult to get and in short supply in this area and therefore the supply and cost of manure is of concern
Therefore for 2014/2015 SfD will focus on helping the farmers to overcome these difficulties with SRI as well continuing to support the training and adoption of SRI in the community.