Use of Eru (Gnetum africana) Cultivation as a Gateway into Sustainable Organic Farming in the Mount Cameroon Forest Region - Page 2

The most successful components of this project were:

During this phase of the project we did not limit sensitization to meetings alone. CENDEP entered into an agreement with EKAS (Emerge and Keep Arts in Society) to assist her in the production and distribution of sensitization material. CENDEP produced text that was translated into cartoons and published in the Humorist Magazine. A staff of EKAS assisted in the distribution and explanation of this material and also in a training workshop that resulted from the sensitization. During this process we were able to share experiences with EKAS. This method allowed us to reach many more people than we had targeted. As a result, five of the six sensitized communities and all the three targeted schools were involved in project activities.

It was not only the local people that were sensitized. Other Projects were sensitized and provided their support to the initiative. For example, towards the end of the project (November 2008) the Rumpi Project in collaboration with CENDEP organized training for additional 15 group leaders in the area on Eru cultivation. This training resulted in the creation of a demonstration unit for the extension of Eru cultivation and organic agriculture promotion in the area.

The CENDEP/Rumpi Project collaboration (an outcome of sensitization) fits well into the CENDEP “Graduation or Exit Strategy”. This strategy is the process of CENDEP working together with key stakeholders to examine mechanisms of transferring CENDEP’s responsibilities to other organizations or institutions. This strategy should ensure that the pulling out of CENDEP does not negatively affect the work so far accomplished.

Creation of Environmental Education Clubs:
Three environmental education clubs were created in Government School Mpondo Balong, Government Technical High School Muyuka and Government Secondary School Malende. Through these clubs school children acquired practical training on composting, seedbed preparation, filling of polythene bags, sowing, weeding, transplanting of seedlings into the field, watering of seedlings, etc. These activities were carried out in the school tree nurseries and Forest Farm Garden (demonstration plots). The pupils/students were able to raise and transplant seedlings of 9 different tree species into their Forest Farm Gardens. The names and uses of these species were presented in a handout that was distributed to the students for reference.

Technical Support Visits:
There was regular communication between the project beneficiaries, the field staff and the head office due to the acquisition of a means of transport (project motorcycle). The field staff was able to respond quickly to the needs of the farmers (problems in the management of propagators for Eru seedling multiplication) because he had an independent means of movement. He also could work in one or two schools on the same day. This reduced the number of problems resulting from the non mastery of techniques taught and as such many more Eru seedlings were raised as compared to the previous year.

Exchange Visits:
During the exchange visit many farmers who did not yet believe Eru could be cultivated out of its natural habitat were overwhelmed when they saw the new agricultural crop growing in a man made forest in the backyard. Some of the farmers could not wait to raise their own seedlings and bought some for planting on their farms. We were able to involve local Ministry of Agriculture staff in the visit and this was equally a good learning visit for them.

Main Difficulties:
Prior to the sensitization conducted with EKAS preliminary sensitization through meetings was organized with key groups in target communities. In the Mile 40 village there was a prominent group with big influence on the other community members. During the preliminary sensitization, this group accepted to champion Eru domestication in the community and to integrate other members of the community in the Eru cultivation project. They were later drawn into a more attractive project, cassava cultivation, which had quick results and got disinterested in Eru cultivation. Rather than waste valuable time in this village it was agreed that this village be left out in favor of the more receptive communities.

The traditional ruler of Ekona village, one of the project villages, questioned the mandate of CENDEP to operate in his community and instead of rallying his people for the project he discouraged them. To resolve this problem the Director of CENDEP visited the community to clarify issues, explaining that CENDEP had come to empower the community on the cultivation of forest vegetable with high economic potential. Following this visit the traditional ruler gave the green light for project activities allowing his subjects to participate freely.

One school nursery was destroyed by stray animals (goats). This led to the construction of fences in all the school nurseries as CENDEP had no resources to compel the owners of stray animals to immediately confine their animals. This led to a delay in the production of tree seedlings as some species that were out of seed could no longer be acquired. To ensure regular seed supply CENDEP entered into partnership with the New Forests Project based in Washington DC. This partnership allowed CENDEP to act as seed distributor for World Seed Program in Cameroon. Through our partnership with the Netherlands Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature we were also able to build a seed store and have facilities for propagation trials and testing of seeds before eventual distribution to farmers. This means that we can now be sure of a regular supply of tree seeds for our reforestation/afforestation activities.

Activities that could not be implemented: In our project proposal we said “Pupils shall be encouraged to enquire and write short stories about important plant species in their environment as well as do paintings of same and make craft like ropes out of NTFPs. All of these shall be exhibited during school competitions and price awards ceremonies”. This was meant for the students to have minds-on and hands-on. Unfortunately this component was not implemented.

During the implementation of this project we came into contact with Global Village Cameroon. The publication of Global Village Cameroon that resulted from the implementation of their project with NEBF support was an example of hands-on minds-on approach which we cherish very much and would like to replicate. Our approach was limited to hands-on, i.e. practical training on how to raise tree and non timber forest product seedlings and create a forest with them. So if we asked to repeat this project we would like to make use of this dual approach “hands-on minds-on”. This will not only result in the provision of resource material for future use but practical actions to mitigate problems we are solving. Notwithstanding, we still believe in our demonstration farms and hands-on training but are now convinced that in order to do adequate Environmental Education (EE) as prescribed by EE specialists we should be able to make the minds more active and also publish the works of students/pupils to serve as resource material and inspiration to other students. For this reason there is reason for us to prolong our presence in the schools.

As concerns the adults i.e. the farmers we think they have successfully completed our Eru training model. It is our policy not to allow our target groups to become dependent on outside aid, reason why we always have an exit strategy in view.

At the moment we are exploring ways of replicating the approach of Global Village Cameroon in one of our project areas where we are carrying out reforestation and afforestation activities and sensitizing the local communities on the need to conserve the remnant montane forests of the region so that they can continue to benefit from the products of forests such as water for ever. CENDEP remains grateful to NEBF for giving her the means to implement her activities. Read the project report.

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Nursery Construction
Ex-Situ Cultivation
Korup National Park