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Yaoundé - 26 June 2022 -
Agriculture

Grain deficit widened by 378% in the Far North in 2021

Grain deficit widened by 378% in the Far North in 2021
  • Comments   -   Wednesday, 08 June 2022 17:05

(Business in Cameroon) - The Cameroonian Minister of Agriculture, Gabriel Mbairobe, launched last week the 2022 agricultural campaign in the three northern regions (Adamaoua, North and Far North). During this ceremony held on June 2 in Mora, Far North, the official revealed that the grain deficit in that region jumped by 378% in 2021 to 74,560 tons from 15,560 tons in 2020.

Minister Mbairobe blames this gap increase in one of the major grain production basins on conflicts, armyworm ravages, attacks by grain-eating birds, and the destruction of plantations by pachyderms. Official data reported that in February 2021, roaming elephants destroyed about 240 hectares of grain fields (maize, millet, cotton, peanuts) in the departments of Mayo-Danay and Mayo-Kani, both located in the Far North region. The same phenomenon occurred in October 2021 in Mayo-Kani, where a herd of about 500 elephants destroyed several dozen hectares of crops in the locality of Moulvoudaye, according to local sources.

Climate change

"The official natural environment for elephants is the Waza Park, which covers 153,000 hectares. At some point, the elephants were divided into two groups (...) during difficult periods, they move to biotopes where water and grasses were easily available. Thanks to their biological clock, they would return to Waza Park when the time came. But, given the climate changes, living conditions are becoming harsher in Waza and elephants do not return easily," said Jean David Ndjida, the Far North Regional Delegate of Forests and Wildlife. He was explaining the reasons for the regular invasion of fields by elephants in this part of the country.

Apart from the ravages of pachyderms on crops, the departments of Logone et Chari and Mayo Tsanaga in the Far North region have, at the end of 2021, faced invasions of seed-eating birds. According to local sources, these birds had attacked no less than 1,500 hectares of cereals. "The birds have their nests either inside the Waza National Park or in the red zone on the Nigerian side (...) they eat sorghum when the grain is in the milky phase. That is why, when we do not deploy adequate measures, they can destroy all of the output," an official from the Ministry of Agriculture told L'oeil du Sahel.

Another threat to grains such as maize and sorghum is the armyworm. In 2018,  it was reported in seven of Cameroon's 10 regions, endangering 75% of the country's cereal production. The problem was such that that year, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) granted Cameroon CFA150 million to fight the Fall armyworm.

Brice R. Mbodiam

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