Agronomy Research Results : Solving The Propagation Equation

Expectations are high in Cameroon that the importation of wheat flour which drains the State of huge sums of her scarce liquidity could in no distant future either belong to history or at least reduce considerably. In effect, news from the Adamawa Region that the country’s Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD) has put in place specialised fields to produce adaptable wheat seeds to stimulate local cultivation of the produce whose by-products are highly demanded raises hopes of better days ahead. 
To say the least, Cameroonians have their fingers crossed waiting for when they will have the requisite quantity and quality of the produce to go about their businesses and household consumption unperturbed. The joy would even be complete when the citizens would be able to meet their needs without necessarily depending on the outside world to import what is generally not of good quality; more so owing to their weak purchasing power. 
Their anxiety therefore keeps mounting, obviously so, as it is on records that in 2020 alone, Cameroon imported 830,000 metric tons of wheat, worth FCFA 150 billion. Local production was barely 200,000 metric tons in 2018. The situation even worsened when relations between Russia and Ukraine; Cameroon’s supply countries, waned. The required capacity could no longer be imported and the limited available quantities therefore sold like hotcake, forcing bakery owners for example, to either increase the price of bread or reduce its size and even quality. An irksome situation for citizens who rely so much on wheat and its by-products for their daily survival. More disturbing even is the fact that the final consumer; whose purchasing power has been continually low, is rather bearing the brunt in huge prices. 
The IRAD’s announcement in Ngaoundere, which is just a continuation of what the agronomy research outfit has been doing, although galvanised this time around by President Paul Biya’s instructions for a special grant, means the country could witness better local production and processing of wheat. Authorities say the Head of State instructed the revival of the wheat sector by granting a budget of FCFA 10.3 billion to IRAD since the beginning of July 2022 with two additional components: the development of production and processing of wheat.  It is even said that IRAD currently has about twenty varieties, four of which (IRAD1, IRAD2, Banyo and Bamenda) are known to perform well and are likely to give good results in the agro-ecological zones of the country. Even heart-soothing is the disclosure by the General Manager of IRAD that from the 2023 agricultural season, the institute will progressively launch the large-scale production of basic seeds of varieties with confirmed qualities with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development so that beneficiary cooperatives and agricultural companies can take over, with the aim of establishing an economic fabric for the country based on the wheat value chain.
Agronomy research is not a problem in Cameroon looking at what the institute is doing. Management has been telling anyone who cares to listen that in the Adamawa, precisely in Wassandé, there is a plot on which two varieties of wheat have already emerged, but in the coming months, or by the next rainy season, IRAD will be able to register in the catalogue of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development some varieties that have shown their technological performance in terms of nutrition and their adaptability to the Adamawa climate. Target is also to see plots of this size in the North West region, which has an excellent ecology favourable for wheat cultivation likewise in Bangangté and Dschang. At its multipurpose station in Kousséri and branches in Meskine/Maroua and Pouss/Maga, the institute also has small-scale observation and multiplication plots for dryland varieties.
Are these results not more than enough to give the country optimal production so as to either wholly meet local demand or at least curtail the huge imports with all its devastating consequences on the country’s already negative trade balance?  It is therefore paradoxical that a country reputed for excellence in agronomy research whose researchers even bag prestigious international awards, coupled with good weather and fertile soils, beg food to eat.
One is tempted to think that research results more or less end with the researchers. They are not widely known or made available to the needy population. Dissemination of the inventions or innovations appears to be a missing link as producers and users seem to operate in solitude.
The wheat sub-sector which ...



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