SOWEDA’s Sub-Director in charge of crop production, Teba Abel, handing inputs to farmer
By Andrew Nsoseka
Southwest Development Authority, SOWEDA, on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, donated some farm inputs to tomato farmers in Buea Subdivision. The donation, according to SOWEDA stakeholders, is aimed at helping the farmers to boost tomato production in Buea and the Southwest as a whole.
The donated items included bags of fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. The donation targeted farmer groups identified by the regional delegation of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Southwest Region.
Speaking at the event, SOWEDA’s Sub-Director in charge of crop production, Teba Abel, said the donation came at a time when farmers have been forced to cut down production due to increasing cost of farm inputs like fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and many others.
According to Teba, the decision to support tomato producers in Buea was influenced by the desire to see tomato farmers in Buea and other areas of the Southwest Region produce more tomatoes to feed the growing market, while also serving as good business for those involved in it.
Teba noted that tomato farming is just a new thing in Buea and the Southwest Region that had previously relied mostly on the Northwest and West Regions for tomatoes. He said, after research and trials, it has been discovered that tomatoes can do just fine in Buea and other areas of the region and, as such, SOWEDA is doing what it can to promote the tomato sector and make it lucrative for those in the sector.
While noting that the donations were given out to some 10 selected farmer groups, SOWEDA’s crop-production Sub-Director encouraged farmers to always associate and avoid working in isolation, so that they don’t miss out on any support given to farmers.
Speaking to the Press, the Director General of SOWEDA, Besong Ntui Ogork, said, when cash crops are mentioned, people mostly think only about cocoa, coffee, oil palm, cassava. He said farmers have to diversify their sources of income given the present challenges.
“Those who have been in Buea long enough will know that there was a specific tomato known as Buea tomato and today, it is not easily found. We have farmers in Buea who have been very interested in producing, and the production over the years keeps increasing.
“That is why we thought it wise to give support to these farmers and one of the areas that they actually need support is the area of inputs. So we are accompanying them this season. This is the first season that SOWEDA is getting involved in supporting tomato farmers, and this is something that has come to stay, because we want to push on the message of diversification, so that farmers are able to make up with their income demands at every season, irrespective of whether it is the cocoa, beans or plantain season,” SOWEDA’s Director General said.
On behalf of the tomato farmers, Ngeke Marcus, a tomato farmer in Great Soppo, Buea – who has been in the business for over 20 years – welcomed the initiative, stating it will go a long way to reduce the burden on farmers who were already cutting down on production due to lack of means to afford inputs as prices have been skyrocketing. He said the gesture will help reduce food insecurity in the town and Region as a whole.