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GIC Confiance Bafole Heifer International Cameroon Model Farmers

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The group started with the help of some graduates in 1998. It was a self-help initiative but legalized its status in 2002 as a common initiative group. According to one of the pioneers, the group president Adamou Ali, 36, they cultivated sweet potatoes, maize, tomatoes and huckleberry on 1.5 hectares of land. Their farm size increased as the membership of the group increased. Group members worked together on their farms to ease the burden of one another. “For each month, we provided each other with labor worth 7,000 FCFA ($15.6). This was to enhance our food security,” Ali remembered.

Although the group members struggled together, they only just managed to feed their families and to send their children to school. By necessity the group members began providing cheap labor to other community members in search of extra income and resources. According to the group president Ali, the annual income per farm family stood at 15,000 ($71.1) and 40, 000F CFA ($88.9 in those difficult days. “We could barely eat two poor meals a day, we mostly ate without oil,” Ngarigang Irene, mother of six (3 boys, 3girls) recalled. This lack of food translated to many health-related complications. “In 2004, I stayed in hospital for three months and could not pay my bill; it’s a cousin that helped me out,” Ibrahim a group member cried. Wanting to forge a comprehensive plan for themselves, the group members applied for Heifer International Cameroon’s assistance in 2008. Ultimately the 14 farm families were retained for immediate help.

For a start the group members were taught how to use manure to fertilize their crops. They also learned about pasture establishment, tree domestication, zero grazing, group dynamics, gender equity, HIV and AIDS and how to reduce the impact of livestock on the land. At the end of the training, eight families were offered one heifer each. The group got a bull. The group members focused on their new project. The members rented a demonstration farm, and with good tilling of the soil, they harvested 4 tons of maize, 2,500 kg of groundnuts and 4,000 kg of sweet potatoes in 2008. Proceeds from the sales were shared among group members. The group applied for aid from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Cameroon. In 2009 UNDP assisted the farm families with 3,800,000FCFA ($8444.4) for a tomato cultivation project. The head of the village gave the group members 2 hectares of land for the task. “With our knowledge on compost, we collected and used over 5000 kg of manure and the harvest was amazing,” Ali said. The group harvested 165 baskets of tomatoes and sold at 1.300,000 FCFA. Individual farmers put in their best efforts on their farms and the output was encouraging. Mfopou Jeanja harvested 900kg of maize as against 375kg, 2500kg of sweet potato as against 1500kg, 2000kg of huckleberry as against 800kg, 1500kg of cabbage as against 750kg on the same piece of land. This created more income for the group.

“My annual income had moved from 30,000FCFA ($66.7) to 85,000FCFA ($188) a month. I also earn 35,000FCFA (77.8) monthly from the sale of fresh milk,” Mfopou added. It also improved their nutrition. “I have enough money; we drink milk daily, have enough palm oil and buy whatever we want to eat,” another group member Fifen said. These group members are sending their children to school, refurnishing their homes, and paying for their hospital bills.

These achievements helped individual farmers and helped the group. Five group members have directly assisted 197 community members with 277 liters of milk estimated at 69,250 FCFA ($153.9) according to the president of the group Ali. The remote village of Bafole has also been given a face-lift thanks to the contributions of the group members to development initiatives. Apart from providing manual labor in community work, the group members paid 48,000 FCFA ($106.7) for the construction of two classrooms at Government Primary School Bafole.

Daily life had also changed in the community due to the influence of the gender equity sensitization campaign. “I work in the house now more than before; I help my wife in all domestic chores. In the dairy project, there is fair division of labor, my wife and children clean the stable and milk the cow while I harvest forage and feed the cattle. There is happiness at home now unlike before," Mfopou said.

Life has become better for these farm families. They want to pass on the change to other needy farm families in the community.

The group’s dynamism had brought them joy and all the farm families are very thankful to Heifer International Cameroon for building the potentials of the group members to achieve unbelievable dreams. “May God bless Heifer International Cameroon in every way possible,” said Ali.

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posted @ 2:22 PM,


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