Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Practice Makes Perfect in the Agriculture sector


Accompanied by his 2 year twin girls, Manyoh Besong and Ayamba Besong; Josiah Egbe strolls out of his family house to extend a hand shake to a journalist. His cold and solid smile creates a good friendship. Josiah’s typical playful African twin -(talkative indeed) run around the giant cocoa nut tree, in front of their house where their father Josiah Egbe has planted their family treasure, 4 active snail farms. Josiah is a tall handsome dark young man referred to in his community as “Tanyi” meaning father of twin. 

In the context of the Cameroon’s snail farming project Josiah is a special case and his slow space belies his accomplishments. Josiah, wife and three children live in the Ekona village some 10KM from Buea the capital of the South West Region in Cameroon. 


Josiah 25 ended his education at  primary seven. He then went in to food crop and animal farming with his deceased parents for a living, he also had a dream to make a living from carpentry but his plans were thwarted for lack of a financial help. He went in to traditional snail farming, through a system where he rescued the extinct animal species by collecting them in the near by bushes and plantation farms. 

 In 2001 out of struggles Josiah got a wife for himself and as traditions demands fully took over ownership of their family farm fields. Josiah lived in a house he had inherited from his parents. 

The house made of mud bricks and dirt floors had a roof which was almost falling off. Without appropriate planning the couple sold all the little food crops and snails they had because they had to meet up with some financial expectations. This left them with an empty barn. Hunger and malnutrition made their children often sick; they were often attacked by common cold. Nonetheless Josiah and his wife were fully committed to live a better life. 

A fresh window of hope opened for the family, when a development organization Heifer Cameroon provided assistance to Josiah through his Nchemty Palm Farmers group. This farmer group wanted to make poverty history and their real want was to improve the food self sufficiency in their families and community. 

From the trainings on snail husbandry and processing, Josiah took exceptionally time to put the knowledge in to action.  From intensively cultivating his farm fields, composting as directed by extension staff, the seeds of corn, pawpaw and yams tubers which Heifer Cameroon gave him yielded miraculously well.  

With new skills in gardening, the couple started a garden at the side of their house where compost was dropped morning and evening; they extra ordinary harvested 60 bags of cabbage.  On their 3 hectares farmland, they harvested 15 bags of Irish Potato as against 3 in the past, 45 bags of beans as opposed to 2 buckets in the past and 90tins of corn as opposed to 20 in the past.  

The food crops also provided feed for the snail animals. Josiah and his wife sold extra food crops during the first harvest season at 90, 000FCFA and 15 bags of cabbage at 50, 000FCFA.  The family’s annual income jumped from 40 000 FCFA to 850,000FCFA. “Before I was saving only 12,000FCFA in the revolving fund of my group annually but today we serve 900,000FCFA from the sale of snails only.” Josiah said.

Gradually, with income he renovated their living room. He bought corrugated Iron sheets and changed his leaking roof. His five rooms living house has being cemented to make it warm and attractive. Inside the seating room a set of modern chairs is well arranged as if the family is awaiting a guest. 

The family has money for their children school fee and medical expenses. He has sent back three of his younger brothers to school and is hoping to return to class when the right time comes. I am not reluctant to assist when relatives come to borrow money from me Josiah said. 

Though Josiah attempted rearing snails like any farmer in his group before, Heifer Cameroon motivated him to rear the animal at home and he has over 10,000 now. Josiah knows that environmental protection is very important for his project. Around his compound and on his farms the couple has planted over 400 environmentally friendly trees to repair the land and attract the animal. 

Josiah recounts that snail farming all started for him like a hobby but has today become the family source of income. I have three types of snail farming systems one in the ground, a cage and a tyre he said. Snail meat is a hot delicacy in the Cameroon local markets today due to the high protein contain and low cholesterol. 

The use of snail in traditional medicinal practice also varies from one traditional culture to the next and snails make hot cash in the local markets in Cameroon. Josiah is the lone exporter of prepared snail meat in his community to other parts of Cameroon, Africa and the world. He also supplies restaurants and bars with this delicacy. 

On a daily bases he makes at least 35000FCFA. He is nursing plans to set up a small enterprise that will employ over 5o youths that will breed the animal, prepare the meat, dry and parcel it to last for months with the support of friends and customers out of Cameroon. Josiah and his wife have also employed three youths to help market the meat along the streets of Buea in Cameroon.  Income from snails is solely managed by my wifel”. He said.

Josiah grew up in a culture where snail meat was highly valued but they were conflicting notions about the characteristics and benefits of the animal, if you don’t keep snails you cannot understand their habits”. He said.   

His untiring quest for anything about snails broadens his knowledge about the animal. Inculcating a gender perspective to the project - Josiah and his smart wife, who now carries an angelic voice as a way to show her new found hope in her society, have a well elaborated time table on which each of them must obligatorily follow on their snail farm .

Their endurance in teaming up together physically and spiritually has motivated them to give seriousness to their snail farming project.   Josiah is proud in his absence work can go on accordingly with support from their children and wife.

The Egbe’s family in the company of relatives and friends during traditional and Christian feast is always sounding fulfilled to afford snail meat for entertainment. The Egbe’s are exceptional snails farmers today and as one villager suggest God showed them signs when he gave them these twins, a rare blessing in this community”. 

Their snail farm is attracting visitors from around the world like the friends of Heifer International from the US, University research students across Africa and local journalists in Cameroon, who call to appreciate his extra ordinary achievements.  Josiah believes that the more he shares his experiences, the more and better he keeps the snail management commandments, like providing constant good feeding for the animal and keeping the hutches neat and tidy. 

The Egbe’s perpetual thirst to rescue the snail farming  project in their community has seen them honoring the Donor organizations  pledge of Passing on the Gift of 50 snails each to four other community members one of them Asua John to expand the knowledge.  Being a soft spoken youth _ Josiah Egbe’s position of treasurer in his Nchemty Palm Farmers Common Initiative group was given by acclamation.  

The snail project has enabled Josiah to tap in to his inner abilities and to accommodate his immediate family and relatives and to be at the lime light of development in his community and Cameroon. According to a neighbor hard work has made the Egbe’s family winners but in his stylistic routine smiles this youth is glad to cite his reawakening to courage and determination. 

To many people outside Cameroon Josiah’s snail project might mean nothing but his self fulfillment and the manner with which he talks about his success story can melt even an icy stony heart.

 By Aaron Yancho Kaah
Journalists attending the Fourth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Morocco have unanimously agreed that their involvement in dissemination of information on climate change will enhance Africa’s chances of feeding the continent.
In interviews with media personnel at the Conference’s newsroom, journalists echoed out their importance in the dissemination of timely and accurate  information to the public.
Emmanuel K. Bensah, a blogger and radio journalist from Ghana, says knowledge is acquired through a process of learning.
 “For journalists to be effective in their work, they need capacity building, training that will afford them the skill required to disseminate climate change information which would in turn make people, especially farmers, make informed decision,” Mr. Bensah says.
Mr. Bensah says climate change is a development issue and journalists therefore need to move beyond politics in their reporting and bring climate change closer to the people who are mostly affected by it.
He says that special training and having experts on board that consistently provide the media with information,   will result in the people knowing much about climate change and relate with the weather patterns that keeps changing.
“One key aspect that we as media experts need to bring out is the human aspect of climate change and this does not just happen it takes skill and know-how that can only be attained through training”, he says.
Mr. Bensah commended the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) for the opportunity to learn about Africa and how the continent can be able to feed itself.
Apollinaire Niyirora from Burundi says disturbances in the form of floods and droughts affect people’s lives so much that journalists become a vital component in dissemination of information.
Mr. Niyirora says with information vested in journalists’ early warning messages and bad practices will be discouraged and creating awareness in people on some of the best practices that need to be adopted.
“We have heard and seen the effects of deforestation, erosion and bad agricultural practices done by people in Africa and how they have contributed to changes in weather pattern. It is possible that our voice as journalists can reach those that are involved in bad practices and in turn enhance productivity”, Mr. Niyirora says.
And Annie Sampa from Zambia says it is the duty of journalists to show that some activity that people are involved in can impact negatively on future generations. “Feeding Africa will require that correct information is given to the people at the right time and this can only be done by the journalist,” Ms. Sampa says.
- See more at: http://climdev-africa.org/ccda4live/en/content/journalists-key-africa-feeding-itself#sthash.eGkLYPyH.dpuf
Journalists attending the Fourth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Morocco have unanimously agreed that their involvement in dissemination of information on climate change will enhance Africa’s chances of feeding the continent.
In interviews with media personnel at the Conference’s newsroom, journalists echoed out their importance in the dissemination of timely and accurate  information to the public.
Emmanuel K. Bensah, a blogger and radio journalist from Ghana, says knowledge is acquired through a process of learning.
 “For journalists to be effective in their work, they need capacity building, training that will afford them the skill required to disseminate climate change information which would in turn make people, especially farmers, make informed decision,” Mr. Bensah says.
Mr. Bensah says climate change is a development issue and journalists therefore need to move beyond politics in their reporting and bring climate change closer to the people who are mostly affected by it.
He says that special training and having experts on board that consistently provide the media with information,   will result in the people knowing much about climate change and relate with the weather patterns that keeps changing.
“One key aspect that we as media experts need to bring out is the human aspect of climate change and this does not just happen it takes skill and know-how that can only be attained through training”, he says.
Mr. Bensah commended the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) for the opportunity to learn about Africa and how the continent can be able to feed itself.
Apollinaire Niyirora from Burundi says disturbances in the form of floods and droughts affect people’s lives so much that journalists become a vital component in dissemination of information.
Mr. Niyirora says with information vested in journalists’ early warning messages and bad practices will be discouraged and creating awareness in people on some of the best practices that need to be adopted.
“We have heard and seen the effects of deforestation, erosion and bad agricultural practices done by people in Africa and how they have contributed to changes in weather pattern. It is possible that our voice as journalists can reach those that are involved in bad practices and in turn enhance productivity”, Mr. Niyirora says.
And Annie Sampa from Zambia says it is the duty of journalists to show that some activity that people are involved in can impact negatively on future generations. “Feeding Africa will require that correct information is given to the people at the right time and this can only be done by the journalist,” Ms. Sampa says.
- See more at: http://climdev-africa.org/ccda4live/en/content/journalists-key-africa-feeding-itself#sthash.eGkLYPyH.dpuf
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