Impact of climate change on farming in Cameroon rural areas constitutes a major challenge
especially to small scale farmers who constitute the poor and vulnerable group. The changes
have led to reactive and autonomous adaptive measures such as planting early yielding varieties
of crops, planting along banks of rivers and crop substitution. Whilst planting along banks of
rivers has environmental implications, crop substitution has income implication because profits
would be short term instead of long term from tree crops which are annual and last for few years.
The sustainable use of land and environmental resources is an issue of major concern for the
government of Cameroon and other stakeholders.In the past, agricultural approaches used to
employ high external inputs such as equipment and infrastructures, neglecting the blending of
indigenous knowledge. This inevitably leads to the numerous lope holes found in many
developments oriented projects. The process of poor people lifting themselves out of poverty
using agriculture in the Wabane sub division has not been smooth, because of lack of access to
information, absence of farm to market roads; Poor farming practices and Out-dated agricultural
techniques. Therefore, there is urgent need for Sustainable Farming and climate change
education in Cameroon’s rural communities in terms of technical expertise and finance support.
The services of NGOs, Government bodies, academic and research institutions in order to meet
up with demand in small-scale agriculture and climate change are imperative.
KEYWORDS: CLIMATE CHANGE, AGRICULTURE, RESEARCH, EDUCATION,
Small-scale farmers in Wabane sub division continuously adapt their practices to modern
innovation and local knowhow as a result of their observations, collaboration and experimental
activities which all contribute to their body of knowledge. Researchers argue that the generation
of knowledge is a process which is, and needs to be ongoing, and that further steps also need to
be taken to exchange, make the knowledge available to all, and most importantly, to act on this
knowledge in Wabane sub division. Climatic variations and changes are serious affecting the
small scale farmers of the Wabane sub division. The seriousness of this threat can be noted in the
rate of environmental degradation, socio-economy and livelihood of marginalized farmers of the
Cameroon’s rural areas. Current natural and environmental occurrences such as Landslides, low
agricultural productivity and floods can be attributed to climate change. All those involved with
the development and daily implementation of climate change and agricultural endeavours in
Wabane sub division are continuously seeking new and better ways to improve farm production
and livelihoods. Research has a lot to contribute to agricultural development in Wabane sub
division: farmers are eager to learn new options and solutions to their problems, but in many
cases do not have information about or access to them. For research to contribute to climate
change, poverty reduction and guarantee livelihood security in Wabane sub division, the
emphasis must be on the application of appropriate knowledge, rather than merely developing it.
In Wabane sub division today, small-scale farming has evolved faster than ever, the competition
for resources is increasing and local adaption is not enough to keep pace with these changes. In
these situations, there is a need to constantly improve on the knowledge of these communities,
gain access to new information and use these to adapt to local conditions, and deal with the
changing world. By broadening the availability of knowledge and empowering the Wabane
communities to participate in their development, small-scale farmers will benefit through having
options and information available, which will empower them to ask the right questions, make
sound decisions and create and develop their own pool of knowledge. The present paper aims to
discuss climate change innovations and practices, with more emphasis on the possibility of their
integration in small-scale farming geared toward sustainable and participatory development in
the Wabane sub division. Even though there are general difficulties with the word “innovation”,
but the results may be surprising.
Wabane Sub Division, Lebialem Division of the South West Region of Cameroon, with an
estimated population of 80.000 inhabitants. It is situated between latitudes 50 11” and 50 45” and
longitudes 90 50” and 100 00” with altitudinal range of 180m-2550m with an annual rainfall of
In Wabane sub division, there is still a gap between accepted theory and current practices.
Although there have been improvements in roads networks, communications and infrastructure
faced by small-scale farmers but it difficulties in relation to research priorities, access to
information, knowledge generation, validation and sharing is shill pending.
Effective research and development approaches for low external input agriculture in Wabane sub
division should be based on effective use of indigenous knowledge, optimal use of local
resources, linking and working together as organisations in order to access other resources and
types of knowledge.
In practice, there are still many difficulties and gaps, especially when considering the complex
relationships between all the developmental actors involved in research and development
processes in Wabane sub division. This shows that participation can be a complex issue, but that
it is essential at many levels and stages in the development and scaling up process in Wabane sub
division. I believe that farmer’s innovation needs to be basic cornerstone of any research and
extension system. But how do we go on from here? How can knowledge be built in this context?
That is now the challenge, and the one that we are committed to struggle with.
Deforestation and forest clearing for agriculture in Wabane sub division.
Some environmental problems identified by the inhabitants of these communities include but not
1) Constant erosion of the top fertile soil resulting from inappropriate farming methods.
2) Landslides - Due to its hilly topography Wabane sub division has for the past years been
affected by landslides during the raining reasons. The most devastating being that of 2003
in which serious losses were incurred both in human and material resources.
3) Increasing soil infertility, which has led to a considerable drop in harvest as compared to
the previous years in Wabane sub division, As a result which the people have to trek for
several kilometer to enable them acquire fertile land to cultivate.
The People of Banteng trying to reconstruct a local bridge over river Massan after the former was carried away
The small-scale farmers in Bamumbu village with their local baskets on their way to harvest food crop from
their far-distant farms (estimated to be about 20 kilo meters)
Most areas in Wabane sub division have always experienced climate change, and farmers have
not been coping up with the degree of uncertainty climate change. Detailed observations reveal
that, many of the effects attributed to climate change is a fact result of deforestation or soil
erosion, or take place because most people in Wabane sub division live in disaster-prone areas.
But there is no doubt that farmers are facing changes with rainfall and temperature. This is
already having a very strong impact, but however farmers perceive and deal with these changes
‘While climate change is a global phenomenon’, those living in Wabane tropics areas face
greater risks. This is mainly due to changes in land use patterns: intensified agriculture, coupled
with deforestation, soil degradation and erosion. It is expected that climate change will further
accelerate the ongoing degradation processes, in many cases leading to a complete collapse in
Wabane. Sustainable agriculture practices can help soils retain higher quantities of water for
example, help withstand periods of drought. Most small-scale farmers have to deal with
insufficient resources, and many are trying to grow crops in soils which are less fertile, or deal
with recurrent pests and diseases. Deforestation and soil erosion result in considerable quantities
of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere, complemented by the production and use
of fertilizers. At the same time, farmers can help sequester carbon by restoring the natural
vegetation where this is possible, avoiding deforestation and efficiently managing their soils.
Most important is that all these efforts have many additional advantages, reflecting a truly winwin
Some proposed remedies are:
1) The practice of contour ploughing especially in farms that is along the slopes to prevent
2) Re-forestation i.e. encouraged the planting of useful local species of trees. For example,
cola-nut, bamboo, cypress, mango, palm orange, apple and guava trees etc. As a measure
against erosion and landslides.
3) Should be advice to avoid construction of houses and other infrastructure along
riverbanks, and on marshy areas.
Agriculture and Poverty
The admission of Cameroon in October 2000 into the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC)
initiative has boosted funding for social programmes to alleviate poverty especially in the rural
communities. This is with the hope that the government will do just the right thing. It is believed
that an uneducated person cannot perform optimally in any agricultural enterprise and it also
holds true for poor persons as well. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) 2003 Report on
Human Development in Cameroon said 75% of the country’s rural population lives below the
poverty line of one dollar day. According to the report, 59% of Cameroonians, including those in
rural area, live in poverty.
Increasing Cameroon’s growth will require concrete actions to address the existing bottlenecks.
Staff recognizes the need to address severe infrastructure gaps, thereby helping to promote
private investment. Achieving these objectives will require raising the execution rate for public
investment, improving absorption capacity, and reducing regulatory uncertainty.
Cameroon is often described as one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, rich in natural
resources and has a diversified commodity-based economy. Food and export crops, livestock,
fishing and forestry make the backbone of the economy. Agriculture employs the majority of
Cameroon’s workforce and it is generally felt that developing the agricultural sector will be
instrumental in overcoming economic decline and on the other hand improve the well being in
the rural areas.
Challenges of small-scale farmers in Africa
Small-scale farmers in Africa face many problems that are complex and multi-faceted including
very high transport costs, high transactional costs, small markets, low agricultural productivity,
low levels of irrigation, erratic rainfall, vulnerability to high seasonal and inter-annual
fluctuations, high rates of evapo-transpiration and very slow adoption of technology (UNDP
2005:148-49). There is also weak knowledge-based subsistence agricultural production systems,
inadequate agricultural inputs and poor market infrastructure, weak backward and forward
linkages between agriculture and other sectors, increased food insecurity, natural resource and
environmental degradation, poor management of water resources and low irrigation
infrastructure (ECA 2006b). There is, therefore, a need for addressing the small-holder problems
in a holistic manner and providing a ‘package’ or ‘basket’ solution. Finding solutions to these
challenges that small-scale farmers face will help break the poverty trap and attain meaningful
development (Hilda Munyua,Final Report May 2007).
Most African countries have developed national agricultural policies and liberalized the
Communications sector, which has led to more players in the market adopting ICT services in
rural areas. But weak ICT policies and poor implementation capacity are among the biggest
obstacles to adoption of ICTs and there is a need to improve ICT policies and strategies (Guislain
et al. 2006:14). National efforts are augmented by regional and Pan-African organizations that
have developed continental and region-wide polices and strategies. The treatment of small-scale
farmers in some of these policy and strategy documents is, however, not explicit enough.
Respondents in the present scoping study suggested that the policies should be crafted such that
they increase the independence of small-scale producers and allow them to take charge of their
affairs. Such policies should also facilitate the securing and enlarging of local, regional and
international markets for agricultural produce and non-timber forest products of small-scale
farmers. Bertolini (2004) 29 suggested that policy makers and actors from extension systems
need to be made aware of ways in which appropriate ICTs can help influence agricultural
Some respondents argued that although ICTs have the potential to enhance the efficiency of
governments in formulating and implementing their agricultural policies, most national ICT and
agricultural policies in Africa do not clearly address the use and application of ICTs for rural
communities with the importance it deserves.
Adapting climate change in Small-scale agricultural Knowledge is a critical factor for sustainable
development in Wabane. Empowerment of local communities is a prerequisite for the integration
of small-scale farming in the development process. The integration of appropriate small-scale
farming systems into development programs has already proved to contribute to efficiency,
effectiveness and sustainable development impact. And there is obviously a gap between the
experts and the smallholder farmers in Wabane. We need to observe more closely what farmers
are doing in developing their own innovations in climate change, and what type of information
they seek from others to continue their own process of agricultural development. This requires
major investment in both management and infrastructural development. Cameroon needs to work
internally and with international partners to address these issues so that small-scale agriculture
can reach their full potential in contributing to the country’s development.
a) Government should empower these small-scale farmers on natural resource
Management and climate change.
b) A need for refresher courses for small-scale farmers on climate change and new
agricultural techniques and financial empowerment.
c) A need for farm to market roads, electrification and good communication networks.
d) There is a need for more collaboration involving international bodies, academic and
research institutions in order to cope up with demand in terms of technical expertise and
e) Encourage the use of fertilizers, practice of crop rotation and the use of local manure like
animal dungs as a measure against soil infertility.
f) Small-scale farmers should be encouraged to form local small groups through which they
can share experiences and cooperate with other groups both nationally and
g) Should be encouraged to practice sustainable agriculture as well as inform them of
existing market situations of various crops like large-scale production and yielding crops.
h) Agro forestry should be promoted in Wabane sub division in order to fight deforestation
and climate change.
I am grateful to the Wabane communities and local authorities for their facilitation in the field
AMYOFACIG (2008) field survey on development efforts in Wabane sub Division.
Bertolini, R. 2004. Strategic thinking: making information and communication technologies workfor
food security in Africa. <http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/ib/ib27.pdf>; Accessed 6 September 2007.
Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). 2005/2006b. Emerging issues in science and technology for
Africa’s development: science, technology and innovation for meeting key MDGs. Addis Ababa: ECA
Sustainable Development Division.
Guislain, P., C. Z. Qiang, B. Lanvin, M. Minges and E. Swanson. 2006a. Overview. In
World Bank. Information and communications for development: global trends and
policies. Washington: WorldBank. pp. 3-
Hilda Munyua (IDRC-Final Report May 2007). ICTs and small-scale agriculture
in Africa: a scoping study
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2005. Investing in development: a
practical plan to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. London: Earthscan