14 March 2017

Cameroon: 2017 Farming Season - All Hands On Deck!

Commentary.

Agriculture stakeholders in the country, especially those of the meridian regions, now know the target for the 2017 farming season, its stakes and challenges and are hopefully working towards surmounting them for a bountiful harvest. This entails producing enough in quality and quantity to ensure a food self-sufficient Cameroon and a better livelihoods for the farmers. Understandably so as agriculture remains the backbone of the country's economy, employing about 70 per cent of the population, contributing over 42 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and about 30 per cent of Cameroon's export revenue coming in from agriculture. It would have even been better had considerably efforts been made to better harness the country's agricultural potentials comprising vast fertile lands as well as abundant rainfall in most regions. Challenges staring the country's agriculture at moment and plenty and do not only require robust action but the implication of all as well. In fact, all hands must be put on deck to rise about damaging effects of climate change, growing problem of aging farms and farmers, the least of which is not the difficult equation of financing agriculture. Since announcing the advent of second-generation agriculture, government has been multiplying strategies to ensure its fruition. Distributing seeds to farmers like the Minister did last week and providing other farm inputs have been good steps in the right direction. Organising the training of youth notably through the National Cocoa Academy to rejuvenate agriculture are equally laudable initiatives that could boost productivity and improve incomes. However, much still remains to be done for agriculture to conveniently play its role in the country's economy. Financing agriculture is not an easy venture. Most commercial banks often chicken out from doing that because the risks involved are sometimes scary. The whereabouts of the bank for agriculture announced by the Head of State during the 2011 Agro-pastoral Show in Ebolowa and officially created some years thereafter is still unknown. In countries where agriculture is projected to lift the economy off the doldrums, farmers are not supported with hoes, spades, watery canes and wheelbarrows. Rather, huge funds, time and expertise are concentrated on research and development and results effectively implemented. Usually, it is to know which area has the comparative advantage to grow what crop more than others. Farm-to-market roads are rules rather than exceptions and processing of local agricultural produce made easier to curb post-harvest lose and guaranteeing the profitability of farmers. More so, banks of agriculture exist and give production-enhancement loans to farmers. Cameroon cannot afford to be different. All hands must be put on deck as stakeholders look at the same direction and work towards getting there.

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