Traditional modern agricultural practices are no longer healthy for the planet. This is why more and more farmers are being encouraged to turn to regenerative agriculture. Regenerative agriculture relies on practices that emulate nature in a way that farms are not just sustainable but are actually beneficial for the land and the creatures that inhabit it. This system of farming secures supply, strengthens livelihoods, and sequesters carbon. It is a nature-based solution to climate change.
In recognition of this, Ecological Balance Cameroon recently adopted the forest garden model. “Some people call it agroforestry, while others say it is permaculture. Local farmers in the communities do not understand the jargon. They understand gardens and forests. So, we explain to them that forest gardening is forest moving into the garden. They have clearly expressed understanding of this concept,’’ the Executive Director of Ecological Balance Cameroon, Limbi Blessing explains.
The Cameroon-based environmental non-profit organization is setting up a 2ha demonstration forest garden in Buasa village, Buea SW Cameroon. Madam Limbi notes that in setting up the forest gardening prototype “we will not till the soils nor use of chemicals, but we will keep the soil mulched always as we plant bothcrops and trees. We will plant fertilizer trees in alley cropping at 5m distance in conjunction with fruit and forest trees”. She added that “we are looking at least 5 different plant species per unit time to ensure diversity. This is to encourage the thriving of soil fauna. We will use black soldier fly to hasten the breakdown of farm waste and have animals graze on the it once every while’’
The establishment of the forest gardening demonstration site, will bring to total four demonstration farms set up by Ecological Balance. Since 2019, the Organisation has been involved in training farmers around the Buea Municipality on climate-smart agriculture since 2019.
According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, if we continue with agriculture as it is today, by 2050, ninety percent (90%) of topsoil may be gone. Again, research shows that land degradation has had, and will have, severe impacts on crop production and supply chains in Cameroon, Africa and other parts of the world in which most of the population relies on agriculture to survive. Regenerative agriculture has been recommended as a way forward.
Regenerative agriculture centers around topsoil regeneration, expanding biodiversity, further developing the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting biosequestration, expanding flexibility to environmental change, and fortifying the wellbeing and vitality of farm soil. Regenerative agriculture does not just “causes no damage” to the land but actually further develops it, utilizing advancements that recover and rejuvenate the soil and the environment. It leads to healthy soil, capable of producing high quality food at the same time improving (instead of degrading) land. It is dynamic and holistic, incorporating permaculture and organic farming practices, including conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, composting, mobile animal shelters and pasture cropping, to increase food production, farmers’ income and especially, topsoil.
By Agborkang Godfred Ebot