By Dr. Sundjo Fabien (Pdf Version)
Agriculture is critical to achieving global poverty reduction target and it is the single most important sector in most low-income countries, as concern its share in the Gross Domestic Product and equally in terms of number of people it employs (World Bank, 2009). According to the World Bank report (2007), agricultural development is one of the most powerful tools to end extreme poverty, boost shared property and feed a projected 9.7 billion people by 2050. In addition, the same report holds that growth in agricultural sector is two to four times more effective in raising income amongst the poorest as compared to other sectors. This has made agriculture to remain a core activity in the developing economies. It is believed that, over the past decades, hunger and malnutrition persist in many countries because of slow agricultural productivity (WFP, 2018). The expected increase in agricultural demand associated with population growth requires a continuous increase in the investment in agricultural activities be it at the national or individual levels. Goal two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is emphasized in the Millennium development Goals (MDGs) aims at eliminating hunger to zero level by 2030. But unfortunately, hunger and malnutrition remain a barrier of development in developing countries. In this light identifying factors that can hamper agricultural production is remarkably important. The objective of this write-up is therefore to investigate the challenges faced by farmers in order to implement informed decision to boost productivity in the food crop farming sector in Cameroon.
Agriculture in the context of Cameroon
In Cameroon, just like other countries in the world, agriculture is and will continue to be a major building block in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals with its main objective being to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. The results of a recent large-scale food security study by WFP, (2018) show that nearly 10% of households in rural Cameroon were food insecure due to inadequate food production in the poor areas. Food security experts from WFD have concluded that without renewed efforts to scale up the domestic availability of food beyond present levels, rural Cameroonians may continue to have deficient access to adequate food. One of the arguments often used is that most of the poor live in rural areas and are sustaining themselves mainly by agriculture.
The World Food Program (WFP, 2018) reported that 40% of Cameroon’s 23.7 million people live below the poverty line and several studies among which Suginoma (2012) shows that food crop farming is the key to poverty reduction among farmers.
Methods and Findings
In order to scrutinize the above objective, and due to high intensity of food crop farming practiced in the West region of Cameroon, data was collected using primary source in which a survey was conducted covering a sample of 250 households in the region. The 250 households were selected using multistage sampling technique. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics as seen in the table below.
Challenges facing food crop farming
|Lack of capital
|Poor farm to market roads
|Lack of storage facilities
|Pest and disease
Source: Field Survey by Author, 2020
Respondents were asked to indicate the major challenges in crop production. From the above table 3.2% of the household reported that they had no problem in food crop production, the rest 96.8% had problem such as lack of capital, price fluctuation, poor farms to market roads, lack of storage facilities, pest and crop disease and climate-change related problems. The main problem mentioned by respondents was lack of capital, as 41.2% of them indicated their main challenge as insufficient capital which was followed by price fluctuation. Other challenges included poor farm to market roads (7.2%), storage facilities (4.8%), pest and disease (4.4%) and poor weather condition (3.2%). However, about 8% said they were not facing any challenge. This suggest that almost 97% of households in Cameroon have problems in food crop production.
In addition, it was found that the low transportation infrastructure available, limits food distribution in the studied area. Majority of farm to market roads in the zone were either untarred or foot paths. As a result, 55.6% of food crop producers transport their produce to the market on motorbikes while, 34.4% got to the market on foot and just 10% of the respondents reported to have used a car. In general, farmers complain about challenges faced during the rainy season.
The role of agriculture has always been multidimensional and significant in poverty reduction as more people are engage in agricultural activities as well as other activities associated with farming. Farming has become a vocation to people with nothing else to do. This write-up was set out to assess the challenges faced by food crops farmers in Cameroon while using 250 respondents.
The findings indicate that food crop producers are faced with various constraints. The following recommendations are importance towards increasing food crop production in the study area and in Cameroon in general. Continuing expansion of state credits, enhancement of people’s credit funds and easing of loan procedures for farmers, especially subsidized credit to the poor is among the best approaches to improved food crop production. In achieving this credit, facilities should be developed by strengthening semi-formal and formal rural- based saving and credit societies.
The establishment of food crop processing industries should be promoted and encouraged to stabilize price of output. Food crop production policies should be made ensuring the participation of crop farming in planning and implementation processes. More extension services and trained personnel should be made available to food crop farmers. Central and local government authorities should ensure availability of adequate and better agricultural inputs by providing pesticide, insecticides and fertilizers while easing the movement of produce from the farms to the market.