Recognizing the vital place agriculture occupies in terms of ensuring food security, poverty alleviation and even environmental preservation, the Africa Science Diplomacy and Policy Network has thus taken up the commitment of promoting agricultural sustainability through the application of smart policies and practices that ensure adaptation, mitigation and increased productivity particularly among smallholder farmers. This is mindful of the fact that smallholder agriculture indisputably remains the major source of livelihood for most of the rural poor in Cameroon and Africa in general yet for the majority of those engaged in it, it is failing to provide them a clear route out of poverty and hunger. Current practices in most of the rural communities are indeed very unsustainable be it in terms of maintaining soil fertility, pest and disease management, linking agriculture practices to changing climate patterns and even in managing common property resources.
Cognizant of all these, ASDPN Cameroon has since been working on a strategic action plan to promote sustainable agricultural practices and policies among smallholder farmers who are very vulnerable to these unsustainable agricultural practices. In this light ASDPN on October 23rd 2018 engaged 5 young smallholder farmers in the Western Region of Cameroon precisely in a community called Banengo. These farmers involved in the cultivation of tomatoes, licks, lettuce, carrots and a variety of other vegetables have since 2015 witnessed a steady decline in their agricultural output and revenue. This has been primarily due to their inability to adapt to changing climate patterns a situation which is true for all the other farmers in the area particularly because agriculture in this area is predominantly rain-fed and hence fundamentally dependent on the vagaries of weather. As these smallholder farmers strive to overcome poverty and increase their revenue, the phenomenon of climate change rather increases their vulnerabilities, erode hard-won gains and seriously undermines the development of the community. Besides Climate change these young smallholder farmers also grapple with poorly applied fertilizers and poor response to persistent pests and disease attacks on crops and limited access to funds which have ‘bottom out’ at low yields and consequently reduced household revenue.
Mindful of our mandate to promote sound and sustainable agricultural practices, ASDPN impressed by the efforts of these young farmers despite the few drawbacks, engaged in a deep exchange with them so as to educate and enlighten them on vital Climate Smart Agriculture best practices especially around climate change adaptation and mitigation, strategic application of fertilizers and pests and disease control. Tips which were greatly welcomed and appreciated. ASDPN Cameroon thus took the commitment to follow-up the farmer’s actions to ensure they conform to sustainable agriculture standards.