Job Opportunities at Ecological Balance: Project Manager, Communication Manager

Call for applications: Job Opportunities  

Organization: Ecological Balance Cameroon

Category: Non-Profit Organization

Location/City: Buea, South West Cameroon

 

Background

Ecological Balance Cameroon is a non-profit organization dedicated to balancing conservation with livelihoods. It was registered in December 2016 with mission to empower communities that live near biodiversity rich ecosystems to undertake actions that would ensure the sustainability of their adjacent ecosystem.  This stems down from the belief that ecosystem conservation can be most sustainable if it is led by people living close to and more so if it contributes to their livelihoods.

 

We are currently hiring committed and reliable individuals, who are willing to contribute to our mission.

  1. Project Manager

The Irvingia programme is developing value chains for non-wood forest products in Cameroon. The aim of which is to help forest dependent communities to earn more money from non-wood forest products, so that they have reasons to protect their adjacent forests. Basically, we train forestpreneurs, help them establish forest-based businesses and help them market the end products. We are looking at expanding our operations to include a cooperative society and setting up of various production units. Within this context, we seek the services of a project manager to;

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Produce action plans presentations and reports on all activities
  • Organize trainings on adding value to/ processing to natural products
  • Set up and supervise small businesses
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts
  • Assist in proposal writing and production of research write-ups
  • contribute to strategies for product development, propose innovations in project implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • Assist in other activities etc.

 

Required Qualification

Young, energetic and motivated individual with at least 3years experience in project and business management. S/he should have conspicuous leadership skills and certificate(s) in Business Administration, Economics, Accounting, value chain development, forestry and related field.  Skills in commodity value chain development, product packaging, marketing strategies and projections are essential. Experience in project planning and management, resource mobilization & management, business models and business administration will be an added advantage.

 2. Media & Communications Manager

In order to properly communicate our activities, Ecological Balance seeks the services of a Media & Communications Assistant to help us manage all communications.

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Rebrand and restructure all communications
  • Manage all online communications platforms; facebook, instagram, twitter, LinkedIn (create content, online adverts, direct live coverage etc to improve online presence) and ensure traffic on all media platforms
  • Direct picture & video coverage, edit videos, produce documentaries, podcasts, video reports etc.
  • Oversee all offline communication activities: produce write ups; oversea newspaper, radio and television programs; documentaries, brochures, roll ups, reports, press releases, ensure external coverage of events etc.
  • Oversea writing & reviewing of news articles and ensure on time publication of e-newsletters
  • Assist in the organizing and managing of events, production of plans and presentations
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts.
  • Assist in developing a Conservation Education curriculum, conducting environmental education and other activities within the organization

Required Qualification

Three years’ experience in media/communication/content development. Certificate in Journalism and Mass Communication, media studies, branding, marketing and any related field. Skills in graphic design, multimedia, branding and marketing are must haves.

How to Apply

Interested and qualified applicants should submit the complete application files comprising of a CV, motivation letter and copies of certificates to communication@ecobalances.org and cc limbitatab@ecobalances.org  latest January 15th 2021.

 

Limbi Blessing T.

Executive Director

Volunteer Positions at Ecological Balance

Call for applications: Volunteer Positions

Organization: Ecological Balance Cameroon

Category: Non-Profit Organization

Location/City: Buea, South West Cameroon

 

Background

Ecological Balance Cameroon is a community-based biodiversity conservation and sustainable development non-profit organization dedicated to balancing conservation with livelihoods. It was registered in December 2016 with mission to empower communities that live near biodiversity rich ecosystems to undertake actions that would ensure the sustainability of their adjacent ecosystem.  These stemmed down from the belief that ecosystem conservation can be most sustainable if it is led by people living close to and depending on it and more so when it contributes to their livelihoods.

We are currently seeking committed and reliable individuals, who are willing to contribute to our vision and mission for a 3-months renewable period.

 

 

  1. Project Assistant

Our Project Irvingia is developing value chains for non-wood forest products in Cameroon. The aim of which is to help forest dependent communities to earn more money from non-wood forest products, so that they have reasons to protect their adjacent forests. Basically, we train women/youths to add value to and/or process natural products to semi-finished and finished goods.

Within this context we seek the services of a project assistant.

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Produce action plans presentations and reports on value chain development activities
  • Organize trainings on adding value to/ processing to natural products
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts
  • Assist in proposal writing and production of research write-ups
  • contribute to strategies for product development, propose innovations in project implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • Assist in other activities etc.

 

Required Qualification

Young, energetic and motivated individual with conspicuous leadership skills and certificate(s) in Business Administration, Economics, Accounting and related field.  Skills in commodity value chain development, product packaging, marketing strategies and projections are essential. Experience in project planning and management, resource mobilization & management, business models and business administration will be an added advantage.

 

  1. Agricultural technician

Our Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Programme requires the services of an agric technician.  CSA is an integrated approach to managing landscapes (cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries) that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change. The goal (dilemma) being to produce enough food without significantly harming the environment (soil, forests etc).

Within this context, the agricultural technician is expected to bring on board skills in modern agricultural practices and technology.

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Support in the day to day management of food banks and demonstration farms
  • Put forth strategies for expansion of existing projects and creation of more innovative one (irrigation systems, clean energy farming etc)
  • Support the development of training schemes in farm optimization, forest gardening, apiculture, mushroom cultivation, grafting, marcoting, tissue culture, plant multiplication
  • Equipment operation (Drone, tractor)
  • Agric management software/apps
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts
  • Assist in other activities etc.

 

Required Qualification

Young, energetic and motivated individual with conspicuous leadership skills and certificate(s) in Agriculture, Plant Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geography, Crop Production/Protection and related field.  Skills in entrepreneurship, commodity value chain development, product packaging, marketing strategies and projections would come in handy. Experience in project planning and management, resource mobilization and management will be an added advantage.  Knowledge in business models, business administration and management would be a plus.

 

  1. Media & Communications Assistant

In order to properly communicate our activities, we seek the services of a Media & Communications Assistant to help us manage all communications.

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Develop a Conservation Education curriculum
  • Carryout environmental education in schools & communities
  • Assist in organizing and managing conservation awareness events
  • Produce plans, presentations and reports on biodiversity conservation activities
  • S/he should be familiar with and possess skills in the management of all known online platforms; facebook, instagram, twitter.
  • S/he is expected to produce online adverts, upload at least one post each week on all platforms, direct live coverage and coordinate everything that can help improve our online presence.
  • S/he will work with our team on the field to produce short documentaries, brochures etc.
  • Respond to comments and do all necessary to increase traffic on our media platforms.
  • S/he will direct picture & video coverage, edit videos, produce documentaries, podcasts etc.
  • Develop social media & website content and assist in promoting and publicizing activities
  • Produce and/or proofread reports
  • Oversea writing of news articles, assist in the reviewing of articles, assist in the publication of e-newsletters
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts and assist in reforestation activities etc.

 

Required Qualification

Certificate in Journalism and Mass Communication, media studies and any related specialization or currently embarking on studies in any of these domains. Skills in graphic design and multimedia would come handy.

 

General Required Competences

  • Passion and interest in mission and objectives of Ecological Balance
  • Good team spirit and communication skills
  • Ability to speak and write good English, knowledge of French will be an advantage
  • Ability to work and interact with people of different backgrounds
  • Ability to multi task and work under pressure
  • Willingness to adhere to Ecological Balance’s core values

 

Benefits

  • A valuable opportunity to learn and gain the much needed experience required in the job market for your area of specialization
  • Brings you in touch with other like-minded individuals in career for more meaningful networking
  • Fulfillment and happiness for making a real and valuable impact on nature, communities and the society
  • Possibility of being employed after the stated period
  • Attestation of service and/or recommendation for greater opportunities

 

How to Apply

Interested and qualified applicants should submit the complete application files comprising; a motivation letter, copies of certificates and a CV to: limbitatab@ecobalances.org latest December 31st 2021.

 

Limbi Blessing T.

Executive Director

 

2700 Trees Planted at Bwitingi Water Catchment to Improve Water Table

Ecological Balance has planted some 2700 indigenous trees seedlings including 11 native tree species like the globally threatened Entandrophragma angolensis (big leaf mahogany), Prunus africana (pygeum) and Voacanga angolensis at the Bwitingi water catchment in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon, using the innovative miyawaki method. The trees were planted in August 2021 to recharge ground water and increase the water table of the catchment, which is the lone source of drinking water to over 5000 homes in Bwitingi and other neigbouring villages. 

Planted with the help of some volunteers, the initiative was greeted with so much joy by community members, who saw it as step towards restoring the identity of the Bwitingi village.  “The name Bwitingi means half water half land. In the early 19th century, about half of our land was covered in water and everyone required the services of canoes to get access to and go out of Bwitingi village. We are losing the meaning of our name! If nothing is done to safeguard this river and it eventually dries up completely like the others, then we would have lost our trade mark. Many people prefer our water because it is colder and purer than others found at lower areas along the Mt. Cameroon gradient. I am afraid this might not be the case someday if nothing is done to protect the catcment,” said Mola Mokoto, Bwitingi village notable during a consultation meeting with the staff of Ecological Balance.

Bwintingi water catchment is the third chapter of the SUGi – Ecological Balance love story. Beside suppling water to over 5000 homes, the catchment is a veritable water source for many from other neighborhoods in Buea, as vehicles take turns daily to tap the precious liquid for different homes. The river also hosts several car washes along its course.

The planting of the 2700 trees at the water catchment, is the fruit consultative talks  with local authorities that started early 2021. The rewilding exercise was made possible with funds donated by The SUGi Project through the SUGi app.

Njiafu Benardin

Buea Women Acquire Skills on Oil Extraction from Forest Seeds

Some 12 women from Buea, South West Region of Cameroon,  last August 23 to 27, 2021 converged on the Irvingia training centre for hands-on training on the transformation of oils extracted from forest seeds into cosmetic products. This was a follow up training after that on the extraction of 100% organic oils.

The oils produced included castor oil, coconut oil, plum oil, njangsa oil, paw paw oil, carrot oil, cocoa oil. The training that was aimed at adding value in order to increase profit margins, according to participants was very timely. “Castor beans is totally useless but the oil is used traditionally for coronation of chief and to  purge  twins of  with craft. A small 100ml bottle of castor oil is sold for FCFA 2000,” said Hannah, one of the trainees.

“I have never heard of plum oil. Just imagine all the plum fruits that are thrown in Buea and neighbouring villages during their season because they get rotten. Imagine turning all of that into oil? That would be a fortune!” she noted

The various oils were then transformed into vaseline, hair oil, body lotions and medicated bathing & washing soaps.

Eco Food Bank Project Donates to 23 IDP Families in Buea

Ecological Balance has within the framework of its Eco Food Bank Project, donated food and non-food items to some 23 IDP families in Buea. Donated September 24, 2021, each of the families from  Bambalang and Bafut in the North West Regiong, and Mautu, Muyuka centre, Banga, Muyenge, Alou and Lewoh from different divisions of the South West Region, went home with rice, cooking oil, salt, maize, maize flour, food sweeteners, and soaps (bathing and washing).

 

Though this number of families were reached, the Executive Director of Ecological Balance, Ms. Limbi blessing, holds that it is just a small section of the number of IDP families in dire need of humanitarian assistance in Buea. “We budgeted for 20 families but finally reached out to 23.  About 72 hours to our donation event, I received over 200 calls. We had planned to donate food to a total of 50 families this year but I have about 180 more families waiting. There still much to be done,” she said.

 

The Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon started in November 2016 and since then, many have fled their homes to neighboring towns to seek refuge from ever increasing insecurity and violence.  UNHCR records (March 2019) indicate that as of October 2018, an estimated there 437,000 had been internally displaced by the crisis; 246,000 of them in the Southwest Region, 105,000 in the Northwest Region, and 86,000 in the Littoral & West Regions and 35,000 in Nigeria. Over 15,780 more were reportedly newly displaced in the NW/SW in June 2020 and the figures keep increasing. The crisis has been widely reported by Aljezeera, Deustche Welle, Human Rights Watch and was second on the list of the world’s most neglected crisis (Norwegian Refugee Council, May 2021).

The victims now called internally displaced persons or IDPs, a majority of whom are women and children have lost their houses (many villages were completely burnt down), source of livelihoods and are in dire need of  food and shelter. Njou Loveline for instance now resides in Bomaka-Buea haven fled from Munyenge a village in Muyuka, South West Region together with her mother and siblings. “Here in Buea, we face a lot of challenges especially with food. We barely eat once a day and it’s in the evening and most often its either rice or garri”, she lamented.

According to Cecilia Efuah, another IDP, the challenges are too many. “Buea is very cold yet we sleep on mats on the floor. We cannot afford food and drugs talk less of sending our children to school. Presently, my children are sick and I think it is due to bad nutrition, we have been drinking garri for too long,” she explained, with tears oozing from her eyes.

It is even more challenging to single parents. I am not a lazy parent. I had farms in Mautu that I worked and fed my children without any stress. Now, I am unable to give them even garri or rice; the suffering is at another level,” said Kudi Pepetua, and IDP single mother.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization access to adequate food or means for its procurement is a fundamental human right. In their words, ‘every human being, every citizen of an ordinary country, has the right to food necessary to his/her survival. Every woman, man and child, alone or in community with others must at all times have physical and economic access to adequate food’. This is only a mirage for many families of the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.

The Eco Food Bank was set up as a forest garden demonstration farm with aim to train farmers in Buea, SW Cameroon on climate-smart agriculture. In response to need, it is now also a living food bank.

Agborkang Godfred

Ecological Balance trains IDP Seamstresses on Reusable Pads Production

Ecological Balance has within the framework of her sustainable menstruation project, trained some 3 internally displaced seamstresses in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon on how to produce comfortable and affordable cloth pads. The training, which took place from August 17 to 20, 2021, was carried out to ensure continuous supply of pads that are good for the body & the earth for posterity.

With at least 6 million women and girls in Cameroon of menstruation age, with about 30,000 tons of menstrual waste are generated from disposable pads annually, according to the National Institute of Statistics, the organization of this training came just at an opportune moment. The 4-module intensive training took the women, who had not seen cloth pads before, through hands-on lessons on pad paper patterns, production of pads with adhesives, hand stitching of cloth pads and machine sewing.

The workshop facilitator, Miss Rose Malley Ekema, stressed on the type of materials that are suitable for cloth pad production. “The material on one end should be saying welcome and come in! The one inside should be saying welcome and stay here, and the one on the other end, should say no trespassing here, stay back,” she expounded. A wide range of materials were experimented on their  ability to; welcome and let in menstrual blood, absorb menstrual blood  and stop blood from passing through respectively.

There were also discussions around the choice of colors. “Menstruation is already very stressful. Please let’s give it some optimism by using bright and beautiful colors,” the trainer underscored. The project Coordinator, Ms. Hendretta Konjieh, took out time to explain that the prices of materials to be used should be carefully considered as it would not be sustainable if cloth pads are too expensive.

 

Period poverty is an overwhelming reality in Sub-saharan Africa. And many girls simply stay away from all human gatherings including schools during menstruation. It should be recalled that in 2019/2020, the project produced and donated over 150 cloth pads to girls and women in Buea. The feedback of which prompted the project team to organize a crowd funding campaign ( https://www.omprakash.org/global/ecological-balance/crowdfund/menstruation-is-not-a-choice–please-help-) targeted at raising $3000 to provide puberty literacy, menstruation education and  reusable cloth pads to over 500 young girls in rural Cameroon.

The team also joins their voices to that of thousands of women all over the world to say that sex is a choice but menstruation is not. Hence, basic menstrual hygiene materials and services should be subsidized instead of condoms.

By Limbi Blessing

Irvingia Project, Boosting Small Businesses in Buea

Mrs. Anyi Ruth Nsai and Mrs. Nyaba Patience Ikoh  of Bomaka-Buea, South West Region of Cameroon have emerged winners of the maiden edition of Ecological Balance’s Irvingia Business Boost programme, with each bagging home the sum of FCFA 100,000 to boost their businesses.  The duo, who were amongst 56 others trained by the irvingia project in 2020 were recognised Sunday August 28, 2021 in Bomaka-Buea during an event that brought together past trainees, friends and well-wishers of Ecological Balance.

Pioneer beneficiary of Irvingia Business Boost programme

These maiden winners of Irvingia Business Boost, were rewarded for their steadfastness in translating the knowledge gained during their training into a practical reality. “Today, we celebrate these extraordinary entrepreneurs not because they participated in our trainings but because they set up businesses after training and remained steadfast. The aim of this is to enable them to produce more, and our hope is that the businesses should grow to employ many people,” Ms. Limbi Blessing, Executive Director of Ecological Balance expounded.

Unlike many other trainees, Mrs. Nsai Ruth had set up the Olive’s Millinery for head fascinators and other accessories from raphia fibre and Ankara, while Mrs. Nyaba settled on Pathen Berger, an energy drink business, shortly after participating the Irvingia Project training programme in 2020.  Both of them could not hide their feelings as a pioneer beneficiaries of the Irvingia Business Boost Programme. “Eco Balance, you have really surprised me today. I was not expecting such a day nor this massive support. I am thankful to Madam Limbi and the entire Team of Ecobalance. This money will go a long way to enable me get established and increase productivity,’’ Mrs. Nsai said.

Mrs. Nyaba Patience on the other hand was simply speechless for a while before remarking: “I don’t know how I can express my heart for this gesture. It has not been easy going alone after acquiring these skills. Today, Ecological Balance has shown me sunlight. Thank you for the support. It will really go a long way to boost productivity.’’ Mr. Nyaba (husband to Mrs. Nyaba Patience) could not also hide his feelings. I am really happy for today. I used to pity my wife on how restless she became after the training. She sits for up to 4 hours to produce just one thing at a time. I also believe this will encourage her to go for a larger production. This organization is really doing a great job,” he stated.  

At the end of the event several community members came to the Ecological Balance expressing their desire to get trained. “I wish to be trained by Ecobalance. I had desired the most recent training but some emergency restricted me.  Pleases let me know when next you have training,’’ Cecile of Bomaka requested.  

Madam Esther of Bomaka also made a similar request. “I have really realized how needful it is for me to obtain your future trainings.  Please remind me about upcoming trainings. I want to learn fascinators. I love the ones I just saw,” she said.

The first fruits of the Irvingia Project harvested with much gratitude to The Pollination Project, The Leopold Bachmann Foundation and Kanthari Switzerland Foundation

Abang Louis

Destruction of Bulu Water Catchment Trees, Height of Ignorance?

Forests serve as homes to biodiversity species, improve air, and suck carbon from the atmosphere amongst others. However, growing urban forests can be quite challenging especially when people are blind to the magic forest (trees) play in the environment.   

Measure put in place fight against deforestation

                  

Statistics show that Cameroon losses an estimated 30ha of natural forests every hour. This is mainly due to timber & fuel wood harvesting and the search for arable land (for urbanization, agriculture etc). In a bid to counter this high rates of deforestation and in mitigating an over 2decade long water crisis, Ecological Balance in 2019, took a commitment to reforest 5main water catchments in Buea, South West Cameroon.

In March 2020, the Bulu water catchment forest (forest number 2 out of 5) was planted, with a survival rate of over 88%.  In March 2021, the community celebrated the first anniversary of the catchment only to discover 3 months after that most thriving trees of the forest were chopped down by some unknown individual. This was a great shock to the community, Chief Mafany of Kombo village (one of the villages getting water from the catchment) promised severe punishment for anyone who will be identified as the perpetrator.  The traditional ruler immediately put up a ‘no trespassing’ sign post and opened investigations to track down those who destroyed the trees and bring them to justice.

The ruthless destruction of trees at the water catchment, points to a missing clue of the link between trees and water conservation. A senior citizen, who lives adjacent to the catchment attributed the act of cutting trees around the water site to a fall and lack of respect of cultural taboos and traditional laws that hitherto regulated deforestation in that area. After nursing and transplanting tree seedlings to increase recharge and solve the problem of water crisis in this community, it was disheartening to lose “the giants of the forest” to some ignorant humans.

 

Difficult Path Treaded to Protect Water Catchment

The challenges were enormous from the very beginning; at planting, we could not find high quality tree seedlings and mulch on time. In strict compliance with the miyawaki protocol, we had to get native trees and organic mulch. These were only gotten after some weeks of scouting. One month after planting, the dried grass that was used as mulch had germinated to become weed, hence deweeding commenced. Again, a portion of the catchment area had been persistently replanted at least 6 times yet the survival rate in that portion was less than 60% notwithstanding.

Putting together the lessons learnt from four forests grown by Ecological Balance so far, ignorance remains the single biggest challenge in urban reforestation.  Simply put, growing forests without the awareness of all, both adjacent community and other users is almost a waste of time and resources. Ignorance is expensive and might cost us our world.

Njiafu Benardin

Forest Gardens Establishment; Prospects, Steps Involved.

Forests are one of the most stable ecosystems on earth. Thus, when we create edible forest gardens that mimic these systems, we get the ecological benefits of a forest with food as a bonus. Forest garden is a multi-layered integrated agricultural system that combines diverse plants and animals into one area to sustainably produce a variety of products and environmental services. A simple forest garden contains three layers; trees, shrubs and ground plants and anyone can have a small forest garden at their backyard because forest gardens are more about the principles than the size.

One may ask; why should I create a forest garden? Forest gardens are some of the most self-sustaining abundant ecosystems one can create. They have a host of benefits for both the environment and human beings. Forest gardens are an important source of diverse and nutritious food, especially for poor rural families and thus, are important contributors to food security and livelihoods of farming communities. It provides a safety net for households when food is served. The plant diversity in forest gardens, helps to enrich the local biological diversity.

Steps involved

In designing a forest garden, you have to choose the general layout, plan on the infrastructure like water accessibilities and structures. Water planning comes first, because without water, the forest garden will not thrive. Suitable places for water tank, irrigation lines or other natural water capturing elements.  The Ecological Balance food bank in Mutengene has a nearby river which helps for irrigation especially during the dry season.

After designing the water system, roads or paths are taken into consideration. This is to direct movement in and around the forest garden now and in the future. For structures, fencing is required to protect certain zones of the forest garden from animals. For example, nitrogen fixing trees or the so-called fertilizer trees have been used as life fences for the Mutengene 1 Eco Balance food bank. Other structures like creating seating areas for relaxation or structures for storing tools are necessary.

Third step is to make a master list of plants. Once the infrastructure are in place on the site map, it is time to choose plants for the forest garden; plants that provide edible harvest like nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes, climbers, plants with deep roots, ground covers, supporter plants etc. Plants like plantains, cassava, cocoyam’s, Njangsa, bush mango, monodora, Okongobong were chosen for the food bank.

The fourth step is to create patch designs. Patch designs defines the planting areas and planting spacing in the forest garden. At our forest gardens for instance, trees (njangsa (Ricinodendron heudelotii), bush mango (Irvingia spp), Monodora myristica ) were planted at a distance of 10 meters apart from each other; plantains planted at a distance of 2.5meters by 2.5meters, and the other crops like cocoyam’s, cassava and okongobong (climber) were planted into the spaces between the trees and the plantains.

Once the canopy trees, shrubs are in place, it is time to design the lower forest garden layers which function as to create a living mulch of ground covering plants; these discourage invasive species, maintain soil moisture and prevent compaction. Plants to consider for this layer are edible plants, nitrogen fixers and animals with anti-fungal essential oils.

Executive Director of Ecological Balance, Ms. Limbi Blessing Tata, “So far, we have established 3forest gardens. One in Bokwangwo and 2 in Mutengene; one on the Southward side towards Limbe and the other on the East wing towards Tiko. The plan is  to establish a series of standard forest gardens with both timber and non-timber forest trees in combination that maximize beneficial interactions to serve as demonstration farms for training many farmers on forest gardening and plant propagation technics”

Forest gardens are designed following the natural patterns of plants and site throughout the year, taking into account important factors such as; soil and climatic conditions, production timing of selected plants and including the movement of wind, water and sun light across the site.

Agborkang Godfred

Ecobalance Fine-tunes Strategies to Bank Indigenous Vegetable Seeds for Future

Ecological Balance has, in consonance with its Climate-smart Agriculture Programme, begun fine-tuning strategies for the banking of indigenous seeds, while also enhancing exchange amongst farmers. Aimed at collecting a wide range of landraces, propagating them in the most organic manner and saving them for the future, the Climate-Smart Agriculture Programme Coordinator of Ecological Balance, Agborkang Godfred, said a mechanism will equally be put in place to ensure that indigenous vegetable seeds are distributed to interested farmers.

Indigenous vegetables are those that have been living naturally in a particular country or climate and adapting to the condition of the area they are grown. Their seeds are usually selected and managed by local people in the growing environment, and have been widely acclaimed by local farmers for being resilient.

“The seeds register more germination rates, and we don’t have to spray the seedlings with fungicides etc.  It is also very common to see indigenous seeds sprouting in farms where they were cultivated the previous year, just after the first rainfall. This especially true with small eye country pepper, bayangi bitter leaf, okongobong, pumpkin leaves, country njama njama, anchia and ‘black’ okra. I am not a scientist but I think our indigenous seeds have adapted to the seasons and developed resistance to organisms in the soil and air over time beautifully,” said Mama Juliet Nkeng of Bomaka village, Buea. The vegetable farmer added that with the indigenous seeds, she is sure of a harvest, irrespective of the climatic condition, unlike modified seeds.

On his part, Mr. Chi Denise of Bokwangho village narrated his ordeals with non-indigenous vegetable seeds.  “I registered 100% failure with non-indigenous vegetables. The most annoying thing is that they are very expensive and difficult to maintain that is spraying with fungicides and insecticides from time to time. Some seeds did not even germinate at all, while the few that germinated, were completely destroyed by insects even after I sprayed them,” he said. An experience, which other farmers confirmed.

To ascertain the validity of these claims, the Eco Food Bank team set out to experiment the germination and survival rates of indigenous vs modified vegetables in March 2021, just after first rains. Indigenous seeds like bayangi bitter leaf, okongobong, pumpkin leaves, country njama njama and black okra were planted on one part of the farm, while nonindigenous seeds like green pepper, onion, carrots, cabbage, celery, parsley and white okra were planted on the other part. There was no seed pretreatment and all were subjected to the same natural (farm) conditions. Three months later, the following results registered;

Table 1: Germination and survival rates of indigenous vs modified vegetable seeds 

Common name (local name) Scientific name Type of seeds % germination Survival rate  after 3months Remarks
Bitter leaf (bayangi bitterleaf) Vernonia spp   100 100 Harvested once every month
Fluted pumpkin (Okongobong) Telfairia accidentalis   100 100 Yet to be harvested
Pumpkin leaves Cucurbita spp   90 90 Harvested every 2weeks
Huckle berry (Country njama njama) Solanum spp   85 85 Yet to be harvested
Okra (black okro) Abelmoschus esculentus var. Ever Lucky   90 80 Yet to be harvested
Anchia Solanum aethiopicum   100 100 Harvested every month
Green pepper Capsicum annum   0    
Onion Allum cepa   20 20 Still to be harvested
Carrots Daucus carota subsp. sativus   60 50 Yet to be harvested
Cabbage Brassica oleracea var. capitata   50 0 Completely destroyed by insects
White okra Abelmoschus esculentus var. Greenie   20 0 Completely destroyed by insects
Parsley and Celery Petroselinumcrispum

Apium graveolens

  0    

 

Indigenous vegetable are an important source of micronutrients and income for rural people especially in Buea. They are increasingly prescribed by medics to patients with diverse ailments , especially those organically grown. Indigenous vegetables have also been noted for increasing appetite, providing fiber for digestion and preventing constipation. The valuable importance of these vegetables has increased consumption and demands for them both nationally and internationally. For example over 50% of all the Eru (Gnetum africana) consumed in Nigeria and beyond comes from Cameroon. This, beside the supply of other crops has made Cameroon to be considered the breadbasket of the Central and West African Sub-Regions.

Despite the importance of indigenous vegetables, and the ever increasing demand for them, their cultivation is unfortunately becoming more and more challenging due to the scarcity of indigenous vegetable seeds.  Though there has been a mass influx of genetically modified vegetable seeds into Cameroon, these exotic seeds have failed to stand the test of time. The genetically modified vegetable seeds have been noted for registering complete crop failure, in some instances, compared to their indigenous counterparts. There is thus, an urgent need to bank indigenous vegetable seeds and make them available to local farmers all-year-round.

By Limbi Blessing