Strong Family Farms
Ensure More than Food Security in Cameroon
By Ataba Jude Fonsah,
Family farming has been the mainstay of agriculture in
Cameroon. Family farmers in my community constitute a
majority of the small holder farmers who are made up of
husband, wife, and children that work full-time on the
farm but not necessarily living on the farm. However,
full-time family farms are becoming rarer, as more and
more members of families have to supplement farm income
by seeking employment off the farm, as well as education
for white collar jobs.
Family farmers are making critical contributions in
feeding a growing population in my community and in my
country Cameroon, despite facing environmental
degradation, poverty and child labor. Family farming is
the only realistic hope for building a sustainable
agriculture that will feed the world because the farm
and the family are inseparable; they own the farms, make
most of the important management decisions and provide
the required labor to grow food.
Providing these farmers with the support they need to
thrive in this challenging environment is essential if
they are to increase their production capacity,
strengthen their resilience and care for the earth.
Farmers take good care of their land, their crops, their
animals, and their workers, because they are all part of
the farmís family.
Family farmers have long fed their families and cared
for the natural resources on which their lives and
livelihoods depend. Their knowledge is integral to
productivity while caring for the earth. But their
ability to produce more and to
become competitive market suppliers is limited by their
long-standing lack of
access to the resources needed to enhance productivity:
credit and other
financial products, improved seeds, education and
training, secure land tenure, access to markets and more
powerful partnerships with private and public entities.
Family farmers are very important to food security, and
makes vital contribution to the local and national
economy as well as protecting the earth.
As a child that was born, raise on a family farm and
sustained by family farming; I can remember that farmers
in my community knew when the rainy season will begin as
well as the start of the dry season just by observing
nature, the birds singing, the arrival of the grass
hopper, the wind, the sun and the tress. But today,
humans have gradually lost this natural instinct as
technologies have been imposed on them, destabilizing
the local economy, putting food sovereignty at risk and
destroying natural resources.
Agricultural methods such as mono-cultivation, intensive
livestock farming, slash and burn, have caused
deforestation and the disappearance of water springs and
wildlife in my community and beyond. Poverty and Manís
greed have put the lives of all living beings at risk.
All this endangers the lives of poor families because
these practices are not sustainable. Thousands of years
ago the Earthís top soil was darker and harvests were
abundant and farming was done without necessarily using
chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Now, because of manís intervention with unsustainable
farming practices, soil
fertility is low and needs more investment for it to
produce crops. If we donít start to protect natural
resources, in very little time we will not have any soil
that we can grow crops in and hunger will increase
The book of Genesis in the Bible says that God commanded
the Earth to produce
trees, bushes and plants to feed all the living
creatures that live on the face of the Earth, whether
they be creatures of the land, sea or sky. But man has
mistakenly taken an attitude of greed for economic power
that has led him or her to convert the earth into a
desert and a hostile climate for his/herself and other
living creatures on earth.
Climate change is manifesting itself through natural
phenomena such as drought in some places and floods in
others, as well as an increase in plagues and illnesses
in plants and human beings. Nature is wise and is making
sure we pay the price for the damage we have done.
People resist changing attitudes but human beings can
recognize good from bad. Man knows that he/she commits
sin by destroying natural resources. For thousands of
years, he/she has been intervening in the Earth to
produce food. But now the planet is being destroyed
because of bad practices in terms of soil usage. We must
all stop and recognize the wealth of nature and empower
family farmers to live in harmony with nature if we
really need to build a sustainable agriculture that will
feed the world.