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Developement news | 25 Apr 2012
New ministers and the productivity of family exploitations

Only subsidies can put enough maize market
Provide seeds to farmers
Over 8o% of small farmers need qualitative, quantitative and different kinds of seeds during planting season. Put at their disposal non-genetically modified qualitative seeds that farmers must have participated in the process of production by putting in place an exchange and improvement network supported by research. This should be in sufficient quantities and at correct periods to improve the production.

Provide fertilizer and phytosanitary products to producers
Almost all small producers do not use fertilizers be it chemical, organic or other fertilizing substances in their farms. Put at their disposal fertilizer and phytosanitary products in sufficient quantities at the right time respecting environmental norms. This will certainly increase productivity. The maintenance and improvement of soil fertility should be a permanent issue.
Give financial assistance to rural farmers
Subsidizing local producers financially is very important. That is, facilitating access to financial resources to small farmers is very important.

Facilitating access to land
Threats to grab land by foreigners, internal and external rich elite on small producers are real in Cameroon. Land title ownership is a security for productivity to small producers.
Improve on production techniques and agricultural equipment
Agric inputs have modes of operation that are not familiar to small producers. It is necessary to train them on production techniques and how to use agric inputs in order to improve their production. Some of them have the equipment but are not using them well.

Improve on the techniques of storage and transformation
Judicious use of good transformation and storage methods can considerably reduce post production losses that bring about 30% loss of harvest. Using these methods well will add value to producers’ produce.
Improve and facilitate access to the market
It’s often said that to produce one must know where to sell. Assuring small producers of better prices for their produce will push them to produce more.
From Pact for Rural Development by ACDIC, COSAC and FA

Farmers too must sit up
The most visible weakness to most small producers is that they have not taken their activities seriously.
Yields will improve with subsidies
Some of them are just waiting for the slightest new of some grants. They have refused to be entrepreneurs, reason why most of the organizations they formed have not moved an inch from the informal sector. Some even prefer to use their organizations to help some civil servants swindle state funds.
There are some groups that are showing very good examples and just need a small push to produce but the majority of the producers work single-handedly. When producers come together they can easily raise the necessary capital to fund their activities, they can provide the work force for their enterprises, learn from one another, stand up against exploitation and so on.

“The minister should stop ‘country man’ business”,
Ebong Michael, farmer/teacher Muyuka
What should the new minister do for agriculture to take its place in our economic development?
The new minister should emphasize the training of rural actors in agriculture because farmers today have more challenges than ever. Managing the soil and insect attacks today is more challenging; even the technical know how of production to most local farmers is a problem.
Many think the greatest challenge is the poor management of agric resources?
The top-town management practice today is a problem to the agric sector. You have trained field workers who work with farmers but hardly are they considered important. These are the people who can provide adequate information on the financial and technical needs of farmers because they are with them on daily bases. The ministry should learn to work with farmers in the field. Things will change if the subsidies given to farmers go to the right sources. Direct subsidies for rice to curb importation is necessary but will have an effect if the money or material support reaches the farmers in Yagoua, Ndop, Befang, Santchou on time and at the right amount.

What do you think the minister should do to bring the ministry closer to the farmers?
Technicians should be in the field. When farmers discover how useful the ministry is they will always go there but when somebody has to behave as if farmers are the poorest people, most of the farmers do not accept such positions. The agric officials should stop writing reports from offices, they should go to the field and when the farmers start seeing the improvement on their farms, they will always be with their technicians. Now some farmers do not see the delegations as part of them. Sometimes things are worsened by the fact that the technicians don’t have the necessary resources to go to the field. The new ministers should ensure that there is an allowance for his field staff rather than the wastage we have seen.
What would you want the new minister to do with regards to corrupt practices?
The minister should stop the ‘country man’ business in his ministry. Some officials fill all positions with their people even when they are not fit for the job. First these kinds of people will not do the work well and the money will be mishandled. The minister should come down to the field and see what is going on. It is only in this way that the resources will reach the right people. The minister should have chiefs, mayors and even civil society groups involved in the management of projects and should pay surprise visits to projects instead of telling people that he is coming so that they pretend that everything is ok.

   
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