Mechanising Agric : Delay Is Prejudicial!

The much-trumpeted revolution that was to usher in second-generation agriculture in Cameroon is disturbingly taking too long to materialise. More than a decade has gone by since the Head of State announced at the 2011 Ebolowa Agro-pastoral Show that Cameroon would embrace appropriate machines and technologies to ensure sustainable agricultural development and, ultimately, ascertain food self-sufficiency and security within the country.
In effect, the Head of State underlined, “I would remind you that it was a question of advancing towards the modernisation of traditional agriculture, livestock farming and fishing in order to increase the production and productivity of small farms and to encourage the emergence of "second generation" production units; in other words, medium and large-sized companies that respect the environment.” President Paul Biya observed that the time had come to definitely put into practice the major agrarian policy he had often publicly called for. 
This explains why he said, “I am committing the ministries concerned to this path, without delay, and I want substantial results. I ask them to do everything possible to ensure our food security, to create jobs in rural areas, to reduce our imports and to develop our exports of agricultural products so that our agriculture in the broadest sense plays its role as a driving force of the national economy.” As if to equate words with actions, a tractor assembly plant was set up in Ebolowa to assemble adapted equipment for the mechanisation of agriculture. 
Before the 2011 Ebolowa Agro-pastoral Show, some diagnoses were already done on the difficulties of the rural sector in the country which ranged from lack of improved plant and animal materials, difficulties in accessing land, low level of supervision, poor land productivity, the extent of post-harvest losses, the isolation of production basins, and the inadequacy of the market system in relation to the agricultural calendar among others. This justifies why the country’s highest authority announced the setting up of a fertilizer production unit, the setting up of an agricultural machinery assembly plant in Ebolowa, the rehabilitation of seed farms, the preparation of a land reform aimed at meeting the requirements of second-generation agriculture, the construction of markets and purchasing centres for agro-pastoral and fishery products, the reform of agricultural training and education, the strengthening of the financing mechanism for rural activities by opening an Agricultural and the SME-SMI Banks. The development of the rural world presupposes the opening up of agricultural production basins and the implementation of major structuring projects. Little wonder the Head of State enjoined, “The various ministries and services in charge of our rural development need to take up these issues and undertake workable steps to implementing them as soon as possible.”
Even on November 6, 2018 while taking an oath of office for the ongoing seven-year tenure at the helm of the State, President Paul Biya underlined that, “We will stage a veritable agricultural revolution by modernising our production tools and further processing our agricultural products. This should be accompanied by the acquisition of new equipment and the construction of warehouses and access roads.” Obviously, these commitments are to ensure that citizens feed befittingly and the country consolidates its position as breadbasket of Central Africa. Cameroon has all human and natural resources to attain these lofty goals! 
Evidently, it was a visionary policy of developing appropriate and sustainable guidelines for the promotion of efficient agricultural practices capable of guaranteeing food security, generating employment for citizens, providing raw materials for all agriculture-based industries, and a sure source of foreign exchange earnings via the export of agric. produce. 
A noble idea that would have changed a lot had it produced the required results. Disturbingly; what existed before 2011 is still on today and may be worsening given the changing times and global happenings. Farmers still use their hoes, spades and wheelbarrows to do what machines were to be doing, farming is still largely at subsistence level, worsened even by ageing farms and farmers. The country may boast of expertise in agronomic research but there is visible incongruity between the researchers and those who are supposed to vulgarise their research results. Rumours even hold it that some of those who are supposed to multiply the seeds and make them available to farmers rather prefer to import sometimes ecologically ill-adapted seeds and seedlings that do not sadly meet with field realities. This is sacrificing adapted local results on the altar of self-gain. Damaging egocentricity that rather rages on for too long!
Individuals of goodwill and organisations continually support farming and farmers with spades, hoes, machetes, wheelbarrows and other rudimentary tools which at best keep a farmer on a hand-to-mouth output capaci...



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