Central Africa

 
 
 
Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Bean breeding gets a boost

Beans are a popular food and cash crop in Cameroon but in recent years, yields from commonly planted varieties have been in decline because of disease, pest attack and poor soil fertility. In response, the Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD) has released seven bean varieties which are more resistant to pests and diseases and able to adapt to different soils. The new varieties are now being multiplied by farmers, trained by IRAD, in order to meet demand both in Cameroon and more widely in the region. Senior researcher Laurent Nounamo explains more about the work to Martha Chindong.

published: November 2012

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Iron-rich beans to combat anaemia

Beans are a staple food in Rwanda. Normal varieties only have low levels of minerals, but the HarvestPlus programme has supported the Rwanda Agriculture Board to breed new varieties rich in iron and zinc. The beans are also high yielding and popular with consumers because of their colour. And with high levels of iron, they can help in tackling anaemia, which affects up to 30 per cent of women in Rwanda and more than half of children under five. By making the new beans available in small packs, HarvestPlus aims to distribute them to 200,000 farmers per year. It is also supporting iron-rich bean breeding in other countries, such as Uganda, DRC, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya.

published: February 2012

Rose Caspa

Rose Caspa

Cultivating wild forest vegetables

The forest vine, Gnetum africanum, known locally as eru or okok, is a highly prized food in Cameroon, and is traded both within the region and further afield, including Europe and the USA. With support from the World Agroforestry Centre, farmers in Cameroon are now cultivating the vine near their homesteads, thereby reducing their harvesting time and protecting the wild vines from over-exploitation. Processing the leaves and other parts of the vine into a variety of products lengthens their shelf life and adds value. Whiskies, body oils and hair pomades are just some of the products now being made from eru. Farmers are also organising group sales, in order to negotiate higher prices from traders. Martha Chindong reports on the progress being made.

published: November 2011

AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center

AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center

Stronger vegetables need less spraying

Originally an Asia-based organisation, AVRDC (the World Vegetable Center) now has regional offices in East and West Africa, where it develops improved vegetable varieties on behalf of smallscale farmers. The mission of the Center is to tackle poverty and malnutrition through increased production and consumption of nutritious and health-promoting vegetables, including indigenous and exotic species. Recently, Center staff in Cameroon held a vegetable day to showcase new varieties developed in partnership with Cameroonian farmers. Takemore Chagomoka, a Center liaison officer and seed business specialist, explains more about the varieties developed, and the opportunity they provide to farmers in the region.

published: October 2011

IITA

IITA

Farming business - cut costs, increase profits

Studying economics at Yaoundé University taught Emmanuel Nguilé not only that farming could be a profitable business and a driving force behind development, but that to make money as a farmer, he would need to obey principles such as the economies of scale. He decided to cut his time and financial costs by setting up his own nursery for seedlings, and now cultivates 60 hectares of cocoa trees, as well as other crops such as plantain. He shows Martha Chindong around his farm, also explaining why pruning is so important to make cocoa cultivation both efficient and productive.

published: August 2011

FAO/Giulio Napolitano

FAO/Giulio Napolitano

Decision-making for families

In Cameroon, rural women typically experience unequal division of labour in the home, bearing the main responsibility for farming and marketing as well as child rearing and household chores. According to Stella Kecho of the Family Management Agreement Micro-project, this not only leads to higher rates of illness to women, but also causes families to earn less income. In response, her pilot project is working with 20 families in various parts of Yaoundé to introduce new ways of working, ensuring that men and boys play a fuller part in maintaining the household and contributing to its prosperity. Passionate and determined, Stella explains more to Martha Chindong.

published: May 2011

FAO/M.Bleich

FAO/M.Bleich

Soya bean processing for maximum value

With a protein content of up to 40%, soya bean has the potential to be a vital nutrition crop in Africa, and an excellent low-cost alternative to meat. But chemicals called trypsin inhibitors, found in the outer coating of soya beans, stop the body digesting protein properly. In order for soya beans to be fully digestible, they need to be carefully heated before other processing is done, and farmers can earn more from their crop if they do this processing themselves. Chenwi Bernard, a soya bean processer from Cameroon, explains some of the factors that need to be considered when processing this valuable legume crop.

published: February 2011

Lava/IITA

Lava/IITA

Battle with banana bunchy top disease

In recent years, serious outbreaks of banana bunchy top disease have devastated banana and plantain crops in several central and southern African countries, including Malawi and Zambia. Recently the disease has also spread to southern Cameroon, from where Martha Chindong reports. At a field day organised by IITA, farmers learn about strategies for controlling the disease, such as uprooting and burning of infected plants, and use of disease-resistant planting material. Martha speaks to an agronomist and also to a farmer, to find out more about this disease, which in the last 20 years has become one of the most serious threats to banana production in the region.

published: January 2011

FAO/Olivier Asselin

FAO/Olivier Asselin

Top tips on crop protection

Six crop protection experts - including farmers and farm advisors - give their best suggestion for how to control pests. These include crop rotation, use of pest and disease-tolerant varieties, field hygiene and encouraging pest predators.

published: January 2011

FAO/Giampiero Diana

FAO/Giampiero Diana

Pest and disease impact in Africa

Insect specialist Dr Philemon Sohati discusses the economic impact of insect pests in Africa, including migratory species. Climate change is having several effects on pest prevalence, higher temperatures introducing new threats, but flooding also helping to control pests in some places. He urges farmers to listen to information from scientists, for example about biological pest control.

published: January 2011

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