Farming Among the Waste in Cameroon, Africa
Cameroonian farmer digs out cassava tubers: Rural-urban migration, aggravated by the adverse effects of climate change on rural farming, is thought to be one of the main reasons behind the growing number of urban farmers in the city. Photo by Anne-Mireille Nzouankeu/RNW.
Urban wastewater farming is not a regulated activity in Cameroon, although it is an important part of the urban food system.
By Monde Kingsley Nfor
30 August 2012
Yaoundé — Cameroonian urban famer Juliana Numfor has six plots of land where she grows maize, cassava, sweet potatoes and leafy vegetables, including cabbages, wild okra and greens.
The soil in which her crops grow is moist and visibly marshy, and a stream of water runs near it. But if you take a closer look you will notice that the water is dark and smells unpleasant.
In fact it is wastewater, which comes from a student residential quarter in Yaoundé, popularly called “Cradat”, that is less than 400 metres away from her plots of land.
But it is precisely thanks to the wastewater that Numfor is farming on this public land.
She told IPS that she prefers planting her crops on urban wastewater sites because she can easily irrigate them by using the readily available wastewater. She said that this was because rainfall had become increasingly irregular – coming and going when she least expected.
“The kind of crops on this piece of land can grow on any fertile land if it is well watered. But during this period in August, which is supposed to be a very wet time of the year in Yaoundé, very little rainfall has fallen. It makes it impossible for vegetable crops to grow without proper irrigation,” Numfor said.
And Numfor is not the only farmer doing this. Smallholder farmers around the Yaoundé city centre are increasingly farming on urban wastewater sites.