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Farmers Shouldn 

Interviewed By Yerima Kini Nsom

The Deputy Executive Secretary of the Citizens’ Association for the Defence of Collective Interest, known by its French acronym as ACDIC, has cautioned farmers not to attempt to bring in foreign products to the Agric Pastoral Show that begins today January 17, at Ebolowa South Region.  Yvonne Takang made the word of caution in an exclusive interview with The Post in Yaounde over the week end. She said the Agric Show is meant for local producers to showcase their capacities. Read on:

How seriously is the Citizens Association for the Defence of Collective Interests, ACDIC, taking the Agro Pastoral Show?

In the first place, the Agro-pastoral Show was supposed to hold in December 2O1O, that is, after 22 years. But, unfortunately, it was postponed again. Here we are in 2O11. The farmers were very disappointed.

We are trying to encourage them to come out to the show, even though January is not the best month. This is a very dry season. It’s not the period for harvests. To know that the farmers have been waiting for a long time, we think it’s an opportunity to showcase their worth. So we hope this will be the best Agro-pastoral Show, since the government, after such a long time, has decided to associate civil society organisations including ACDIC.

But if you go to the markets now you’ll find so many imported products. What do you expect of the farmers coming to exhibit at the Agric Show?

That is actually the crux of the matter. That’s the main activity of ACDIC and other civil society organisations. We expect the farmers not to bring any imported food products. The Agro-pastoral Show, normally, is meant for local producers. They should come and show their capacities; show that they can produce for Cameroon. Show that we don’t have to count on imported products in order to feed our country. So, we’re hoping that the Show is an opportunity for the government to see that local farmers are capable. That’s the main activity we are going to carry out on the field.

ACDIC has always been very critical of the government’s agricultural policies. Now that you are working in tandem with the government to ensure the Agric Show succeeds, people are bound to think that the government is seeking to tie your hands so you won’t be too hard on it. What’s your take on that?

Well, before getting involved with the government, we put forward some conditions. That was in August 2O1O. Our role is to criticise as a civil society organisation. We will continue to reserve our right to decry any activities that might tend to kill local production. So, the government decided to sign this contract assuring us that if we work together for the success of the Agro-pastoral Show, there would be no imported food products at the Show. So, we expect that this engagement would be respected.

You are part of this collective of civil society organisations for food sovereignty. What are you aiming to achieve?

First of all, we created this coalition just after the Head of State announced the holding of the Agro-pastoral Show in 2O1O. And we thought that ACDIC, on its own, could not carry out the campaign to stop imported products at the Show. So, that’s why we decided to invite other farmer organisations to work with us together to ensure that there will be no imports at the Show. That’s the main activity of this organisation.

How can the Agro-pastoral Show impact on food security and, as a matter of fact, food sovereignty in Cameroon?

You know the coalition signed a petition addressed to the Head of State. We were appealing to him to realise that he is the only one who can ensure that the Agro-pastoral Show holds, not only well, but frequently. Because, if we institutionalise the holding of Agro-pastoral Shows, then, we know that the farmers will produce every year. And only if the government is behind them by subsidising them. That has always been our cry. Definitely, our food sovereignty will kick-off from there.

How would you describe the situation of food sovereignty in Cameroon?

Poor! That’s the word I’ll use. Poor because, we are not food sovereign in Cameroon. We used to be, some years back. Every thing consumed in Cameroon is imported: rice, which can be produced in Cameroon, is today imported. That is, 90 percent of our rice is imported. So, our food sovereignty is actually dying. We have about four or five rice producing regions in Cameroon. But, unfortunately, these farmers can’t sell what they produce because rice is imported.

On what will you blame this?

The blame is on government, of course; because farmers are abandoned to themselves. They are not capable of producing and they are not capable of selling.
 

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