Some 50% of school children in Cameroon, even those in middle-income families, are deficient in many nutrients, including those necessary for effective learning. Overuse or misuse of pesticides is also degrading both human health and the environment. Villagers, often women, spend long, hard hours at farming, but the food produced is not always sufficient to meet family needs. Young people turn away from farming as a career when they see their parents work so hard for so little benefit, but agriculture is critical to Cameroon’s economy.
CAMAAY works with local schools, young people, and rural women’s groups to solve these problems by providing the seeds, tools, information, experience and organization for farms that use organic methods and traditional practices to produce nutritious food in sufficient abundance to feed village families with enough left over to generate income.
We help design and maintain vegetable gardens that grow indigenous, nutritious, organic vegetables. We select crops that will be hardy, provide needed vitamins for growing children, and plentiful enough to produce a surplus that can be sold for extra income. We follow organic farming practices that protect families from the toxicity of pesticides, are gentler on the environment, and allow for more sustainable cultivation. We teach efficient use of space and waste water recycling, and how to bank seeds for future gardens.
Learning by doing
Teachers and school children design the school vegetable beds, with labels bearing scientific and common names of the vegetable. The gardens are used as a base for teaching a variety of subjects, including botany, plant adaptation, geometry, measurement and accounting.
We also help rural women’s groups establish vegetable gardens and seed banks that support integration of traditional knowledge and practices; and help village youths grow high-quality crops and livestock that can be sold to develop income and employment opportunities.
CAMAAY volunteers and agricultural extension workers provide support on technical and management aspects of the gardens and farms.
By providing farm tools and training on how to use information and communication technology; setting up of agricultural resource centers; and teaching marketing skills for getting the best price at market, we hope to make farming easier, more productive, and more profitable.
We organize visits to other gardens, to help create regional networks for sharing knowledge, equipment, and produce.
In 2015-2016 we will be supplementing these activities with special moringa test gardens.
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