Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Subsistence to commercial farming

Much of the farming is done by women who tend the land to feed their family.  Therefore plots are usually small and often on steep and even marginal slopes.
contour tilling has been encouraged in the more accessible areas to discourage soil erosion in the rainy season

Most of the people here are subsistent farmers and so they rarely produce excess to domestic requirements, except occasional gluts of whichever fruits are in season. However traditionally it has been impossible to do anything with these, other than give the excess away as there is no means of storing such produce or getting it to market to sell. This has also meant that over production is not something people aim for in the same way that commercial farmers do because there is no outlet for any excess food produced.

the small fields are well tilled by hand using a curved hoe.  These are ready for planting
The women grow yams, cassava, ground nuts, bananas, plantains and cocco yams as foodstuffs and everything is carried home.  They use head carrying, baskets suspended on a rope around their head or on their back.

The men tend to make small plantations outside the villages growing cocoa and sometimes coffee as cash crops. Some villages now have cassava grinders and frying pans so that cassava can be processed in greater bulk and sold, it is one of these that we are transporting to Ote.  People with accesses to these tools will grind, ferment and cook the cassava to make Garri, which is then transported on the vehicles that ply to route to Mamfe, to be sold. More men are becoming involved in this traditionally female dominated industry as it becomes a cash crop, and trade is beginning in the area- more people are moving to a more commercial economy.

cocoa plantation with a bee hive in the shade in the distance

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