By Andrew Nsoseka
The Forum for Christian Women Empowerment and Development, FOCWED, in partnership with NEPAD, and Cameroon’s ministry for Women’s Empowerment and the Family, have impacted over 60 women and youths in the Southwest region of Cameroon, on the adverse effects of climate change as well as the need for climate-smart agricultural practices, aimed at fighting climate change and ensuring food security.
In a two day training hosted by the Cameroon Cultural Centre in Buea, on December 27 and 28, participants were drilled on the issue of climate change, its causes, its effects, impacts, local adaptation mechanisms, use of organic fertilizers, as well as methods and practices that ensures climate-smart agricultural practices.
In her welcome speech, Mrs Eteki Stella Dopgima, Project Coordinator for FOCWED noted that the workshop and training is designed to fill the knowledge and skill gap in the field of agriculture and climate change. She regretted that Cameroon’s agricultural output has dwindled over time due to climate, and that as such, FOCWED alongside its partners is working to impact over 60 women and youths on climate change and climate-smart agriculture in the Southwest, so as to ensure food security and a habitable environment and climate.
Talking to the press, Mrs Eteki Stella revealed that as part of their activities to support the women folk and empower them, they were “going to transform ten women cooperatives to full-fledged cooperatives and in addition to that, we are going to put a drying machine and a packaging machine at the FOCWED office. It is the first in the Southwest region. This will help women as far as transformation, preservation and commercialisation of farm products is concerned.
“The main aim of all these is to fight post-harvest losses. Women lose a lot of their products especially vegetables after harvest. That is why we are going to have a deep freezer where women can preserve their food. We are going to teach them, that is why we are installing the drying machine too.”
Talking on climate-smart agriculture, she said it “is an effective way of carrying out agriculture. A lot of women do agriculture, but they follow the rudimentary method. We want to improve, we want to take agriculture to another new level. We don’t want the practice of burning farms. We want to educate women on how to make their own organic fertilizers.
“There are a lot of illnesses because a lot of people use artificial fertilizers to produce their crops. Using the climate-smart method of agriculture and organic fertilizers helps first in our health. It helps our environment and that is why we are talking about climate change. Some of our old farming methods results in emissions into the atmosphere which affects our health and that of the climate.”
On her part, the Southwest regional delegate for Women Empowerment and the Family, Mrs Moffah Juditha applauded FOCWED for impacting lives in the community through women since 2006. She regretted that women lack skills and expertise to deal with the adverse effects of climate change. She noted that with the present climate situation, it is difficult to draw a line between the rainy and the dry season, and as such farmers do not know when to plant their crops.
Dr Mrs Niger-Thomas Margaret, the representative of the minister for Women Empowerment and the Family, noted with dismay that farming has become more expensive due to the alternating climate situation, as people do not know when to plant their crops, and as such, most people plant more than once in a season, especially when the rains come and then go, making sprouting crops to dry off. She also noted the reoccurrence of floods, insisting that more practical solutions are needed to tackle the global problem.
Mrs Beltha Ngowo Motomba a vegetable farmer from Lysoka village, noted that they are currently facing problems which are relatively new to them. “The problem that we face is our soil. When we plant our vegetables, at times it withers before time. When we plant our maize, it doesn’t get the usual height. It gets flowered and doesn’t do well.
“Sometimes we have to water the crops because the rains abruptly stop. Climate change is affecting us in Lysoka. Formerly, we just use to plant and only return to harvest, but today we struggle because the whole place is dry. The knowledge acquired here will be spread to our relatives in the village so that the situation can be improved.
Participants at the workshop were mentored by expects selected from concerned ministries, the University of Buea, the community, climate concerned organisations and others, all engaged in the fight for a safer and habitable climate, as well as food security and the empowerment of women and youths.