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Agro-forestry Centre; 25 Years Of Reducing Rural Poverty 

By Marie Solange Moki — The World Agro Forestry Centre known by its French acronym as ICRAF, has celebrated 25 years of reducing rural poverty through the planting of high value indigenous fruit trees. The week-long celebration was aimed at portraying ICRAf achievements in the domain of agro-forestry and its participation in tree domestication.

Addressing ICRAf workers during the opening ceremony on November 22, the Minister of Scientific Research and Innovation, Dr. Madeleine Tchuinté, declared that because of ICRAF’s diversification of planting trees, Cameroon can now benefit from crops such as njansang, bush mango, bitter cola and the African plums.

“Tress that took 20 years to be matured can now take four years thanks to ICRAf’s modern techniques of cultivation,” she stated. The Minister promised that Government will continue supporting ICRAF in its scientific research projects. She, however, urged ICRAf officials to extend their activities to areas like the Far North Region, which she said is suffering from desertification.

According to the Regional Delegate of ICRAF, Dr. Zacharie Tchoundjeu, agro-forestry, which deals with a mixture of crops and animals, is another way of fighting poverty in the country.
To him, agro-forestry is now considered as being dynamic because, it has improved food security and increased resources for energy, as well as the need to sustainably manage agricultural landscapes.

“ICRAf has succeeded in enriching poor households through farm-grown trees and has improved their income by linking them to markets. It has also helped in the training of over 10.000 farmers on modern techniques in cultivating trees,” he stated. One of the pioneer workers of ICRAF, Ann Degrande, told The Post that the organisation began with the production of trees and has evolved to the selling of its products, thereby creating employment as more staff is recruited.

Other activities that marked the event included field trips to Makenene, Bangoua and the APADER Resource Centre in Banganté; ICRAF Board of Trustees meeting and exhibition of research results. A symposium on the theme “Tree Products Value Chains in Africa: Sharing Innovations That Work for Smallholders,” is programmed for November 26 to 28. Tchuinte used the occasion to award Labour Medals to some 14 pioneer workers of ICRAF for meritorious services.

First published in The Post print edition no 01393

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