The Hope Farms Initiative is out to give farmers a push. But we have a whole different target in mind. We aren’t out to help just a few farmers. It’s an entire system overhaul that is needed beginning with the mind-set, through cultivation and storage practices to market systems. And we know it both the little ideas shared and the big and bold undertakings that will finally turn thing around. Permanently!
Growing crops is the main source of livelihood for an estimated 70 % of the people in Bui. However, the practice of farming has remained largely behind the times. Trade is very unfair to the farmer whose disproportionately intense labour yields significantly less than the potential of the land. Tools are artisanal and far from ideal designs; many lose a lot of the crop on their farms; often over 30% or more grain is lost in storage for those who attempt it; and at the market prices fluctuate so wildly they often just give away their produce.
Hope Farm Initiative Projects are conceived to address these problems in a way that touches the white collar worker with an amateur garden, the family that lives off a small parcel of land, the nimble minded with lofty practical ideas that could employ many but with no access to credit or outlet to realise their ideas and more. We do it to last.
Improving Local Methods
Hope Farms Initiative gives the possibility for local farmers to consult its technicians on difficulties they face in their cultivation practices. But we don’t sit and wait. We keenly observe the difficulties farmers are facing and organise simple proximity training in small groups to explain the causes of their observed underperformance such as with the Potato Cultivation Demo project (link to potato videos) Plus image).
We believe carrying out modest projects like this in the population centres can more effectively communicate and hold the interest of the largest number of farmers possible. (Link Sponsor a small demonstration project in a community of your choice in Bui Division).
Vegetables for Families Project
Adapting Crop Culture to Climate and Soil
Hope Farms Initiative is working to introduce the cultivation of new crops that will give the farmers a Competitive advantage in the markets. Ethnic groups of Bui Division in Cameroon have very similar food culture. This leads the people to give preference to a specific and narrow range of crop choices such as maize, potatoes and garden huckleberry (African Nightshade).
There are some areas in Bui Division such as Kumbo that have a climate that is propitious to temperate zone crops such as grapes and apples. Some farmers like Kennedy Fai (Link to People article) are already making strides to promote apple cultivation. Hope Farms Initiative is joined hands such enterprising farmers to promote these crops that have a huge potential. They stand to improve the quality of diets, especially the children, improve diets and open up possibilities for further employment through the food processing industry.
Sustainable Organic Farming
The Hope Farms Initiative is very mindful of the need to promote organic farming. We teach people how they can properly prepare livestock manure and compost for their smallholder farms and why bush fires amongst other practices constitute threat to their long-term productivity and the broader environment. We find ourselves compelled to teach the people the “the right way” to use the non-biological inputs they are beginning to adopt. Organic farming is a hard lesson to teach the ordinary farmers who mostly have only the most elementary knowledge of biology. However, this is a challenge we have no intention of shirking from. While begin pragmatic about short term goals, we are committed to the cause of health, be it human, animal, or insect life. We must preserve the health of our noble bees and animal diversity for a healthy environment for posterity.
To this end, the Hope Farms Initiative team is working on an ambitious new model for agriculture for the community. It involves programmed rotation of crops on a large scale for farmers organised in cooperatives. The target is allow the soil to recover as much as possible by itself by alternating heavy feeder crops with light feeders. It will ensure that optimal use of agricultural land with a keen attention to the actual needs of the market. No easy task but difficulty was never an excuse for not doing the right thing!
Just like in so many other communities across Africa, the main source of livelihood of the people of Bui is artisanal agriculture. In places like Kumbo although the soil is of average fertility, the people work hard to cultivate despite the very hilly topography using hoes and machetes. The rains alternate with a dry season that lasts a period of five to six months. During this half year period of sunshine, most of the land is left uncultivated.
There is, however, a huge particularity here. Although during the dry season the inhabitants suffer from a shortage of potable pipe borne water, Kumbo, like other localities in Bui, is blessed with an extensive network of small streams and subterranean water. The whole administrative zone sits on a watershed. Despite this reality, very little irrigation is practiced. The result is that in normal times, there is a regular poor supply of vegetables with respect to variety, quality and quantity during the dry season. With the ongoing socio-political crisis, this problem has been compounded to a critical level.
Hope Farms Initiative intends to turn this around – Very Permanently.
Livestock and Fish Farming
Although significant amounts of land are allocated to pastoral farming, the sector is very poorly developed. Most of this allotted land is given over to cattle raring with a good proportion of it not used at all. The pasture is not scientifically managed by the herd owners who still practice very artisanal methods.
The dominant small ruminant by far is the African dwarf goat species. The animals are kept in small numbers mostly low-income earners of the community. Any significant piece of land they can afford is used for agricultural purposes. As there are no organised groups in this sector, they are unable to make any claim to and make use of the grazing land carved out by public authorities.
In Kumbo, the rains alternate with a dry season that lasts a period of five to six months. During the half year period of sunshine, most of the land is left uncultivated even from the time when a brief second cycle of cultivation is possible just after the harvest. At this time, ruminant owners untether their animals to roam free for the seven months, seeking out pasture wherever they can, mostly on the unused farmland – sometimes on farms where strangers have taken a chance to cultivate beans and vegetable gardens. This practice only is a major source of tension in the community. It holds back both the ruminant keepers and agricultural farmers from attaining their full potential.
Harmony Ruminant Farms Project
Organizing Farmers to harness true potential and Fairer Trade
- Food Processing
- Local Brands for affordable healthy food
- Job Creation