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Climate Change Threatens Fako Agriculture 

By Francis Tim Mbom

A research carried out by Professor Jacob Mbua Ngeve of the Cameroon’s Institute of Agricultural Research in Yaounde, has found out that Fako Division, well known for its high agricultural productivity, might, after all, be heading for a downturn following the growing effects of climate change.

Ngeve’s findings, presented in Limbe recently by a forestry engineer, Bruno Ewusi, reveal that farmers in Fako Division can no longer know precisely when to plant their crops because climate change has made it in such a way that the rains come earlier than they used to; are irregular and most unpredictable. "The first effect of climate change on the agriculture of the Fako area is the early and irregular arrival of rains. This has changed the farming calendar, including dates of planting and harvesting," Ngeve said.

Ngeve’s research indicates in the past years, farmers in Fako had with some precision waited for the first rainfall by March 15, which signalled the commencement of the planting season.
When such rains come, crops like maize, cocoyam, cassava and others can then be planted. But in the past few years, such early rains have tended to come even as late as January or in February, fall for a few weeks and the sun sets in again.

"There is no longer any mastery of the cropping calendar. Rains come early when least expected, farmers are deceived, plant their crops, but later experience drought which causes their crops to wither and die," Ngeve said, adding that this pattern of early rains, which lead to early planting ends up in poor yields or even crop failure. The Division Delegate of Agriculture for Fako, Charles Monono, corroborated Ngeve’s concern, saying; "crops need an optimum amount of rain as well as heat in order to be able to do well. Too much of either of them will adversely affect the crop in question" he said.

He added that; "we are now already in October when it is expected that there should be some sunshine. But if you have witnessed in the last one week or so, there has been far more rainfall than we usually have now. Farmers in Buea who deal in tomatoes will certainly not be happy because such heavy rains at this period would probably damage their tomatoes." Ngeve’s research also indicated that the increase in temperatures have led to a reduction in some fish species and lower fish catch along the coastal areas of Fako. "In markets now, we find fewer and fewer catfishes and are forced to settle for mackerel," he said.

Professor Ngeve believes that the use of improved varieties of seeds and improved breeds of animals can help stem the effects of changing climate. In addition, market gardening, digging of fish ponds and rearing of cane rats (cutting grass) could also be of help. Also, government could help by providing better farm inputs; encourage mechanized or irrigational agriculture, open markets as well as improve farm-to-market roads.

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