The large-scale problem
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CTA. 2002. The large-scale problem. Rural Radio Resource Pack 02/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57364
A commercial farmer from Cameroon discusses the difficulty of large-scale organic production, and a plant health specialist comments on crop rotation and organic market development.
The large-scale problem Cue: Mr. Martin Shu is a commercial farmer in Cameroon. He grows a variety of crops, including maize and yams. He is also keen on organic agriculture, and gets organic manure from his poultry flock. But obtaining enough manure for a large maize crop is a major problem, as Martha Chindong found out when she visited his farm, close to the town of Bamenda. Martha also spoke to Mr. Michael Mboh, an expert in biological crop protection, to find out how organic crops were competing in the local marketplace. But her report begins with Mr. Shu, who explains the system of organic farming he has adopted. IN: ?I have been cultivating this ? OUT: ?grown from organic matters.? DUR?N 5?01? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Martha Chindong finding out the difficulties and the potential of commercial organic production in Cameroon. Transcript Shu I have been cultivating this piece of land for more than six years, and in this farm I do crop rotation. And to succeed in this crop rotation I do sole cropping, I don?t inter-crop, I don?t mix. So when I want to shift this one to this place, another one comes there. That is the method that I am using in my farm. Chindong Is that the reason why the crops are looking green and fresh? Shu That is one of the reasons, and another one is, I have been using poultry manure in the farm, which you know is very rich, even richer than fertilizer. And also the green grass which grows in the farm after harvest, I actually bury in furrows where it decays, and the next season it is already manure, in addition to the poultry manure. That?s why you find these crops growing very fresh and green like that. Chindong What are some of the difficulties you encounter with this organic method of farming? Shu Well the problem is, you know, when you want to farm in a very large quantity, I also find it difficult to have enough manure since my poultry is not too large. So those are my problems. Should I have a large poultry I can also farm a large farm. And that is why I have decided to use fertilizer in some of the areas, just because I want to farm more but I am having less manure. Chindong If I get you well, it means a farmer cannot really go commercial using an organic method of farming? Shu Actually, if you want to farm five hectares of maize, and you want to use only organic manure, I don?t think you will succeed to have enough manure so that the crops will do well. That is what makes a commercial farmer like me still to involve myself with fertilizer. Whereas if I was not a big commercial farmer, I would not be using fertilizer. Chindong Do you think there is a way that this organic method of farming can be encouraged? Shu Yes there should be a way, because in fact those who are there to support farmers, when they get from us that there is a problem, that we cannot get a lot of this organic manure, they can start thinking of a way to support us get it. Like the national extension saw our farm, so green, that we farm with manure and so on, and our problem was the building of a storage house. They decided to build one for us, which we have for storing our yams, and to sell when the market is there. And surely when we sell when the market is there, and we have more money, we can also be able to buy more feed for the animals and so on and so forth. Chindong Yes, we are meeting the staff of the Phytosanitary Services in the North West province, in the name of Mr. Mboh Michael. Mr. Mboh, do you encourage farmers to go organic? Mboh Yes we do. We have been working day and night, to see that the farmers abandon the use of these synthetic pesticides. So we are now talking about natural plant protection, by use of local herbs to treat plant diseases. I think that is one way of encouraging them to go organic? Chindong Crop rotation: can it also help as a way to control pests and diseases? Mboh I think yes, like let?s say, yam beetle; he said that he is growing yams. If the yams were affected by yam beetle, when they rotate, the maize that is coming to take over from the yams cannot be attacked by the beetles. So the next rotation, the beetles are not going to be found where maize was grown. Chindong Let me ask you this practical question. Do you think crops grown biologically, or using this organic method, can really compete in this liberalised market? Mboh To me, it can compete, it?s just that we lack the will. If we could distinguish what is produced by use of chemicals, and what is produced by just organic matter, you see that there is a difference. Like talking in the case of where crops have been treated with toxic chemicals, if you could identify such crops on the market, and if you were already affected by crops that had been grown with toxic chemicals, and when you go to the hospital and you want to know how much it will take to cure yourself, that way you can evaluate the cost. Chindong Do they do this thing of certification of organic products here in Cameroon? If not, how do farmers know that these crops are grown with chemical fertilizers, and these ones grown naturally? Mboh Well for now I think there is nothing, to my knowledge, we are not yet doing it. But I think there is something in place; we are already talking about seed certification, that is seed material to be planted. They are setting up units that are doing certification at provincial level. so I think very soon it will be possible to talk about certification of crops that have been grown from organic matters. End of track.