Helping the rice farmers in Ngoketunjia, Cameroon
After over 4 years of developing the programme and fund raising, in 2013 we finally started our activities.
Henry Ngimbu from Zambia was recommended to us by Cornell University from the US. Henry first introduced SRI to Zambia in 2005. In November 2009, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Zambia engaged Henry Ngimbu to train farmers. In early 2010 Henry created the Centre for SRI Initiative (CSRII). In February 2011, CSRII received funding from the American Embassy to train 300 farmers in the Zambezi District of the Northwestern Province of Zambia.
Henry travelled to Cameroon on the 18th of May and spent 5 days with the farmers (20th May to 24th of May). He was assisted in Cameroon by a local NGO FAP.
3 farming groups participated in the training. The initial farmers trained will become farmer leaders and thereby we created the building blocks in terms of a SRI leadership structure. These lead farmers will be the drivers in expanding the programme across this community.
The material covered includes:
a) SRI Farm record-keeping and preparing farming seasonal calendar: The women farmers practiced and demonstrated on their own how to maintain a simple but effective farm record-keeping and be able to plan and prepare their yearly farming seasonal calendar which is very important for a farmer to know and prepare adequately the direction of her farming activities in a season.
b) Local farmer-based method of seed germination potency testing: The women farmers practiced and demonstrated on their own how to carry out seed germination potency testing technique to help them separate the most viable seeds for planting from the rest. Simply this involved putting the seeds into a pail of water to which salt has been added. This makes the task of removing non-viable seeds easier
c) Nursery Management and Priming: The women farmers practiced and demonstrated on their own how to prepare seedling nurseries in different approaches to produce healthy seedlings basing on the enabling factors and farm condition.
d) Transplanting practices: The women farmers practiced and demonstrated on their own how to transplant young seedlings, transplanting single seedling per clump, carefully and with shallow rooting for the rice plant to reach its full tilling potential.
e) Field preparation and management: The women farmers practiced and demonstrated on their own how to on good field management to support rice plant and of its soil and water conditions, so that the plant's potential for growth and production gets fully expressed.
f) Group on-farm work culture policy: The women farmers practiced and demonstrated the importance of group dynamics which hinge strongly on emphasising the need to work together as a group and adherence to good governance.
The detailed technical report has been reviewed by both Cornell University and by our independent governance partner PAN AP. PAN AP comprises 108 network partner organizations in the Asia Pacific region and links with about 400 other CSOs and grassroots organizations regionally and globally. Rice has remained one of PAN AP’s focuses.
Both Cornell University and PAN AP have reverted with positive feedback. The first trip is a strong start to the programme. The participation of the farmers and farmers groups was encouraging. The conditions they face are typical conditions where the techniques we will introduce can have a positive impact and will improve the farmer’s yields, reduce their costs and therefore empower and alleviate poverty. The techniques that Henry taught will have an immediate impact.