SRI-Related Productivity Increase Contributes to Food Security in Conflict Areas of Northwest Cameroon
- [March 8, 2021] In March 2021, Chia Benard (Ben) Ful, coordinator of the local NGO Boyo Association For Rural Development (BARUDEV) that works in the northwest Cameroon community of Mbueni, Boyo division, reported on the performance their SRI demonstration fields. The photo at right shows the productivity of SRI methods this past season: two large bags filled with paddy rice harvested and threshed from a field that less than one bag of rice was achieved. Aside from yield, for Cameroonian farmers, rice seed requirements are a big consideration and cost. The SRI field was planted with just 3-5 kg of seed, whereas farmers with their usual methods would use an entire bucket of seed, 20 kg or more, for this field. In a grain-per-grain comparison, SRI methods with the same variety produced 12 times more paddy rice than with currently prevailing practice in the village. Because there is ongoing armed conflict in the region, many roads are cut off, and markets and trade have been disrupted. Rice supply is scarce in the markets, and the market price for rice has climbed. Most households are now subsistence producers. Any rice that is not needed as seed can be saved for household consumption in a rather dire situation of food insecurity. SRI’s 12-times greater productivity of rice seed can make a substantial contribution to food security in northwest Cameroon.
In an email (March 7, 2021), Ben wrote: “With the crisis and Covid affecting us, better rice production can reduce hunger and poverty and also reduce malnutrition in children and those displaced by the armed conflict. We need to extend SRI into many communities as the demand for rice keeps increasing. Imported rice has become more expensive, and anyway people prefer local rice since it is cheap and delicious. Even in the other regions of conflict, our demand for rice keeps increasing, meaning we need to mobilise resources for extension and also lobby for external support.”
- SRI Starting in a Second LocalityThe photo at right shows the demonstration of SRI rice nursery seeding by Chia Bernard Ful, director of the Boyo Association for Rural Development (BARUDEV) at Eleh in the Mbueni community of Cameroon. Agriculture is its main activity, and rice is the main crop of this community. SRI is still very new to them and other rice-growing communities in Boyo District in north western Cameroon. BARUDEV, which collaborates with SRI-Rice at Cornell University and a farmers’ cooperative in the Ndop commune (Coop BOD) that previously received assistance from SRI-Rice. With training and advice from Coop BOD, BARUDEV is championing the introduction of the SRI in this community and will later be introduced in other communities. Two demonstration sites were set up to compare sowing seeds at random and seeding in lines as with SRI. This is phase two of an effort to get SRI known and utilized through farmer-to-farmer efforts.
- Farmer-to-Farmer SRI Training in Mbueni[December 26, 2016] At the end of November, four SRI farmers in Ndop plus COOPBOD coordinator Julius Fieshi made a four-day trip supported by SRI-Rice to Mbueni in Boyo Division (November 29 – December 2) to provide training to farmers working with the NGO BARUDEV in the latter location. Their report provides details on what was a logistically difficult trip but which was successful in conveying knowledge and building interest in use of the new methods.
- NDOP SRI Project Shows Points to SRI Advantages Over Conventional Production Methods [January 2015] Julius Fieshi, coordinator of SRI COOPBOD Group, Ndop, Cameroon, trained farmers on SRI methods and reported on harvest evaluations for two farmers in Ndop. The January 2015 report highlights yields received on an SRI plot, compared with a neighboring plot that used conventional rice farming methods. The rice in the SRI plot had over three times as many tillers and panicles as the rice grown conventionally, with the average SRI pannicle being 40cm longer and having 59 more grains per pannicle on average. Although the size of the plots were different, Fieshi conducted a labor cost evaluation for the two plots, finding that the SRI plot generated more cost benefit than conventional methods. (See report for details.) There is a video of Ndop farmers discussing SRI.
- First SRI Results in Cameroon Reported in NdopDuring 2011, the British NGO Skills for Development (SfD) began planning to promote the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in the commune of Ndop, which is located in Ngoketunjia, a division in the Northwest Highlands region of Cameroon. An SfD initiative brought Henry Ngimbu from Zambia as an SRI trainer and evaluator for three short-term assignments during 2013. (Henry was the catalyst for getting the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) demonstrated and started in his home country as reported on the SRI-Rice Center website’s Zambia page.)
Cameroon’s first-year demonstration trials, which were managed by three women’s clubs, achieved an average yield of 8.2 tons/ha as opposed to their previous paddy yields of 3-4 tons/ha; only 6% of the members had previously ever achieved yields more than 5 tons/ha. The participating women’s groups included the Makew Women’s Group, the Tianghou Common Initiative Group, and the Church Street Women’s Group. At the end of the project, a new organization encompassing the three women’s groups and other interested farmer groups to be engaged in SRI farming methods was established and registered with the Government of Cameroon on December, 20, 2013. The new entity is called Ngoketunjia System of Rice Intensification Producers and Marketing Group (COOPBOD).
Participatory capacity-building training in SRI was carried out in the commune of Ndop, Cameroon, by the Centre for SRI Initiative (CSRII), Zambia. The program was managed and sponsored by the NGO Skills for Development, with technical support from SRI-Rice at Cornell University in the USA. Others involved in the development of the project included PAN AP, the Cameroonian Government Rice Development Organization UNVDA and the local Cameroonian NGO FAP. Three training visits were made during 2013 by Henry Ngimbu from Zambia to Cameroon. The first trip in May involved SWOT analysis and introduction of SRI to the three farmers groups participating in the SRI project. During June, the farmers learned SRI methods and set up their plots using the Farmer Field School (FFS) approach. Finally, progress was evaluated during a third trip that began in October 2013.
The initial results by the three women’s clubs registered yields ranging from 4.0 to 12.8 tons/hectare, generally much larger than their previous paddy yields less than 4 tons/ha. Tianghou Common Initiative group managed to produce the highest paddy rice per unit area, 6 tons/ha, while the lowest was 2.8 tons/ha. This was followed by Makew women’s group, which recorded a high yield of 9 tons/ha and low of 7 tons/ha. The Church Street women’s group had yields only ranging from 4 to 7 ton/ha which was attributed to stress to the seedlings due to transport difficulties. The overall average of 8.2 tons/ha, however, was considered a remarkable improvement upon previous production. To celebrate the impressive harvest and the launch of SRI farming in Cameroon, an inaugural ceremony was held on December 5, 2013, at Njama-Njama Park in Ndop farms, Cameroon. Shown at right is the guest-of-honor, Wilson Ebi, Deputy Divisional Officer of Ngoketunjia division of the Cameroon Government, cutting the ceremonial ribbon. Memuna, president of Makew women’s group, is shown at left lifting up the 70 tillers from the first SRI harvest in Cameroon. The ceremony attracted hundreds of people involving government representatives, civil society, media, and farmers in Ndop.
There are challenges to achieving widespread adoption of SRI in the project area. The Ndop Plain in Cameroon where SRI was taken up by the women’s groups has a history of this land being heavily reliant on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. This has contributed to the exhaustion of this land, which was probably due to depleted soil biological richness that contributed to poor rice crop growth. Organic manure was applied to improve the soils, but this needs to be emphasized in the next season to build back the fertility of soils. In addition, access to appropriate and reasonable farm tools needs to be addressed, as this will aid in the adoption of SRI in Cameroon in the future (See report for more information).
- Julius, Fieshi. 2016. SRI COOPBOD / Barudev Initiative in Rural Development: Introducing a Learning-by-Practicing Method (LbPM) on System of Rice Intensification (SRI) [Training by SRI COOPBOD (Ndop) Conducted at Mbueni-Njinikom Sub Division, Boyo Division, North West Region, Cameroon, Nov. 29 – Dec. 2, 2016]
- Julius, Fieshi. 2015. Report on harvest evaluations for two farmers in Ndop, Cameroon, January 1, 2015. SRI-Rice website. January 1.
- Ngimbu, Henry. 2014. Cameroon joins the SRI club. System of Rice Intensification website. (40p., 1.80 MB pdf) [Report on SRI trainings and follow up by Henry Ngimbu for the NGO Skills for Development]
- Palamakumbura, Tamara. 2014. Training of rice farmers in Ngoketunjia, Cameroon. Skills for Development website.
- Palamakumbura, Tamara. 2012. Introducing SRI to Cameroon. LinkedIn discussion on the SRI-Rice LinkedIn Group. April 18.
- Skills for Development (SfD) Facebook page. (Largely devoted to the current SRI project)
- Ndop Rice – Helping the rice farmers in Ngoketunjia, Cameroon. Ning Group website managed by the NGO Skills for Development.
- The SRI-Rice Cameroon Photo Collection contains photographs of SRI fields taken in Cameroon
- Ndop Rice photo gallery on the Skills for Development‘s Ndop Rice Ning site.
- 2014 (February 27). Bamunka (Ndop), Cameroon (2014): Introducing SRI.1:10min. (A farmer from Ndop discusses her SRI test plot and interest in expanding to larger fields).