Students hard at work
Volunteers Hugo de Oliveira and Mathilde Schoenauer Sebag arrived from France on the 19th of March 2015 to help with our school gardening project.
Hugo and Mathilde visited the gardening clubs, and enjoyed introducing the students to new seeds, since the children were generally only familiar with the north-west’s primary crops, plantain, cassava, cocoyam, and maize.
Mendankwe Primary School
The first school visited by Hugo and Mathilde was Mendankwe Primary School. Since many of the seeds provided in the past did not sprout, the volunteers discussed ways to better nurse the seeds.
A nursery should protect the seeds from dryness, excessive sun, heavy rains, and parasites. The quality of the soil in a nursery is usually better than the soil in the field; a finer soil should be mixed with manure in order to increase the nutriment content.
Mathilde had the idea of introducing a cotton nursery. When covered in humid cotton, most of the seeds find the appropriate conditions to sprout.
The seeds were put in the cotton, and then watered by the children.The focus was laid on measuring the water on each of the seeds to avoid drowning them.
Unfortunately, rats were able to access the shelf with the seeds at night and they destroyed most of them.
After the nursing activity, the volunteers went to the garden to plant some seeds with the children. The children had already prepared the beds.
At the end, Liliane, one of the teachers made a presentation on the various species cultivated in the region.
Bome Mbengui Secondary School
Here, Hugo gave a presentation about agriculture in France, followed by a little game in which the students had to rank the different food crops grown in Cameroon relative to the amount produced.
The winners were able to identify both cassava and plantain in the top two, and maize in the top four. They were awarded with candies.
Then Patrick introduced the seeds to the students and to the principal, Martin.
Due to recent rains, the soil was too muddy to plant that day, but a local resident had helped the children create suspended nurseries made of bamboo. He said the soil was unstable and that the sticks holding the nurseries had been moving with the rain, indicating that erosion is a serious problem.
Chomba Primary School
The following day, Hugo and Mathilde went to Chomba Primary School. This school is in a remote area and requires a hike of a few hundred meters from the clay road to access it.
The volunteers and students started by transplanting a few plants that were nursed. The rest of the beds needed to be scattered again to be planted. Once a seed paper bag was finished, the students put it through a stick in order to label the area.
The school visit ended with a presentation of agriculture in France with a portable projector, and with a ukulele demonstration and songs from Mathilde.
Fundong Secondary School
Fundong is far north of Bamenda. Only Hugo and Ruth, a field teacher gardening specialist, were present because Mathilde had already started working on a water management project for the Batibo municipality.
After a presentation on agriculture in France, Hugo introduced two videos with some mechanized agriculture used to plant and to harvest Irish potatoes. The goal was to show them that farming without hard labor is possible and is already developing in Cameroon.
The volunteers and students then went to the field to set up the nursery. With the help of the local assistant, the students mixed the soil with some high quality manure before planting. Ruth showed the students how to mark the trenches before sending the seeds inside it.
Gusang Secondary School
The visit to Gusang Secondary school was very productive. Even CAMAAY’s director Patrick had to work hard!
The students and volunteers ahd to scatter the garden and to make sure to remove the roots of the wild yams, since just removing the plant at the surface does not keep the roots from sprouting new shoots.
Hugo and Mathilde met Mr. Ferdinand, a worker at the school who is close to retirement. He told Hugo and Mathilde that he would like to farm once he retires. He wants to grow corn to feed chickens and pigs in order to sell meat.
Babessi Secondary School
The last school our volunteers Hugo and Mathilde visited was in Babessi, near the village Ndop. Surprisingly, this region is much warmer than Bamenda. Babessi is in a valley, which stores the heat. With the abundance of rainfalls, rice was cultivated.
The teachers and principal were very welcoming to Hugo and Mathilde. After another presentation about agriculture in France, Hugo and Mathilde went to the garden to start cleaning and making the beds.
Overall, we were a bit disappointed that more progress had not been made, but feel very pleased withthe work our volunteers did and are hopefull we will soon have some thriving crops.
A student putting the seeds in cotton
The Principal at Babessi Secondary School helping