Cameroon : Farmers uneasy with climatic changes

Adverse climate changes are becoming a serious problem to many farmers in Cameroon since most farmers depend on rain-fed agriculture.

Since farmers do not master when the rains will come or cease, farmers often become confused when to plant.
Combined with many other adverse climatic changes and over use of farmlands, crop yields are witnessing drops to the dissatisfaction of many farmers. Gone are the days farmers could predict rainfall and plant their farms while waiting for the rains. In most parts of Cameroon up to the 1990s, most subsistent farmers in the West, North West, Littoral and South West Regions waited for March 15th to plant. The farmers were sure rain will come within this period and enable their maize, beans, yams, coco yams or cassava that are usually planted in March and April to do well.
Lack of meteorological services
The unpredictability of rainfall usually attributed to climate changes, aggravated by the grounding of most meteorological stations in the country has worsened things for farmers. A few years ago, the Association for the Defence of Collective Interests, ACDIC raised the alarm that only two of the numerous meteorological stations in the country were functional while the others were just abandoned in the bush. Since then few have been repaired but the climatic changes are seemingly getting worst.
While agricultural officials resorted to warning farmers not to plant until it has rained well, farmers express fears that this will continue to affect their yields.
Cocoa farmers hit by low production
“These past years have been terrible for us cocoa farmers, the yields have been poor”, Aboh Joseph, Cocoa farmer in Munyenge told The Farmer’s Voice recently. Attributing the low productivity to climatic changes, the cocoa farmer says the poor rainfalls affect cocoa yields.
Aboh says rain started earlier this year just like last year and when cocoa farmers will expect much of it to make cocoa bear, there will be little rain. The farmer regrets that last year the rains surprised them by coming early but in April and May when they expected more rain to make cocoa bear, there was little rain and this explains why they had little yields.
Farmers come up with survival measures
“This time I don’t just plant after the first rains, I wait to see if the rains fall heavily”, Andrew, a maize farmer in Buea told The Farmer’s Voice. He regretted that last year when rain drizzled in February he planted and when the rains seized he lost much of the seeds he planted. He had to replant. Farmers expressed the need for meteorological stations all over the country to be sure when it will rain for them to follow their crop calendar.
There have been serious complaints in Buea about climatic changes. Some quarters that used to be very cool are hotter but natural potable water sources in some areas are said to be reducing. There were various calls during world environment day for farmers to respect protected forests in the region and to integrate tree planting with crops to fight back climate change that has come as a result of rampant felling of trees.
Bangsi Daniel Song

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