By Yerima Kini Nsom
A senior researcher from the World Vegetable Centre in Yaounde, Regine Tchientche Kamga, has observed that traditional African vegetable production in Cameroon has been on the decline because local farmers lack high quality seeds.
She made the remark during a two-day training workshop that brought together some farmers, gardeners and other stakeholders at the Nkolbison neighbourhood in Yaounde. The workshop was aimed at arming vegetable farmers with modern techniques of seed production and multiplication.
The World Vegetable Centre, in collaboration with the Centre for Assistance to Sustainable Development, CASD, organised the workshop.
It was in this perspective that Regine Kamga said low quality seeds were behind the dwindling fortunes of traditional African vegetable production. Such vegetables, she went on, include Jute Mallow, known locally as “green”, okro and African Nightshade popularly known in Cameroon as Huckleberry or “Njama njama”.
To her, the training was designed under a project called “Enhancing Productivity, Competitiveness and Traditional African Vegetables, TAV, for improved income and Nutrition in West and Central Africa.”
During the workshop, participants were trained on the recommended methods and the techniques of producing quality seeds. Experts equally armed participants on the process of seed quality certification and demonstrated to them how traditional vegetable seeds production can be a profitable business.
The dwindling production of African Traditional vegetables due to lack of quality seeds, has also affected the consumption of vegetable in Cameroon.
According to statistics, the quantity of vegetable consumption for an individual per year is extremely low. The World Health Organisation, WHO, recommends that each individual ensures at least 75 to 80 kilogrammes of vegetable per year.
Most researchers hold that people in Cameroon consume nearly 40 kilogrammes of vegetables per person. It was in a bid to arrest such an unpleasant situation that the World Vegetable Centre organised the traditional vegetable seed multiplication training session.
For one thing, researchers hold that the low consumption of vegetables is swelling malnutrition in Cameroon. It is stated that malnutrition in children is due to lack of iron and protein caused by low consumption of vegetables.
The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, has revealed that, Cameroon tops the chart of acute malnutrition in children in the Central African Sub Region.
In order to avert such a situation, participants at the workshop, were unanimous that community-based seed production was necessary. Going by the Coordinator of CASD in the South Region, Ashu Tambe, the antidote to the problem is enabling farmers themselves to produce high quality seeds in huge quantities.
One of the participants, Audrey Bih Suh, from the Bonjongo Agricultural Post in the Southwest Region, told The Post that the workshop was timely. She said she was taking home so much knowledge on vegetable seed production for the farmers of her area.
To her, the poor preservation of vegetable seeds from their previous yields is responsible for the decline in production. Such seeds, she pointed out, lose their genetic and other qualities.
Participants were expected to go home well-equipped with up-to-date knowledge and enhanced skills to produce and market quality seeds of traditional African vegetables.