AIVDP Constructs Water Irrigation System to Boost Potato Production in Lebialem Division
Potato farmers in Lebialem, South West Region of Cameroon, are gearing up to make the most out of the third planting season of the year 2023 as AIVDP rounds off the construction of an irrigation network on an estimated 200 hectares of arable farmland. The completion of this project will come just in time for the dry season crop. The area is now poised for a bumper harvest, and the news has so far been well received by the farmers and the entire community as four (4) out of five (5) lots of the activities have been completed.
In previous years, during the dry season, farmers struggle with planting and growing crops as a result of water scarcity and those who are fortunate to have some permanent water source around their farms have to make do with rudimentary, inefficient and labour-intensive irrigation systems. For many others who are not able to be by side of a water source, the cultivation of the dry season or off-season crop was completely off the question. This, restricted production and left many farmers struggling to make a living as they watch their compatriots take advantage of the very high prices associated with off-season production. As an illustration, rain fed potato will sell as low as FCFA 18,000 per 100kg as against FCFA 35,000 for the irrigated crop produced in the dry season.
Thanks to the new investment from AIVDP, potato farmers of Lebialem Division can breathe a sigh of relief as the irrigation system will bring a significant change to this narrative. To ensure adequate availability of water during the dry season, AIVDP in addition to harnessing permanent spring catchments, has also sank boreholes that are solar powered and equally built several reservoirs at higher altitudes to water the farmland by gravity.
Several tons (77.86) of improved potato seeds and agrochemicals (fertilizers and pesticides) are being distributed to farmers at very subsidized prices. The icing of the cake is the construction of two Temperature-controlled warehouses for the storage of potatoes. This is expected to increase the shelf life of the crop and reduce postharvest losses that are usually a real blackhole for most farmers. The above interventions by the Project as well as capacity building of the farmers in various agricultural practices in the Nkongle Potato Production Basin, is an excellent opportunity for farmers to produce more and better-quality potato yields.
The project has already employed several youths in the area during its construction phase and is expected to generate more job opportunities in the long run. The youth, who are the majority in the region, are being encouraged to take advantage of the project and acquire the necessary skills and support to become self-employed and create jobs for others as well.
Potato farmers in Lebialem are grateful for the support provided by AIVDP. The assistance has not only increased the quantity and quality of their crops, but it has also allowed them to expand their operations and increase their income. Furthermore, the project has encouraged the use of modern farming techniques, which will save time and energy, promote efficient production, reduce wastage, and ultimately improve the quality of production.
To this end, AIVDP's provision of two temperature-controlled warehouses will be instrumental in helping potato farmers in Lebialem store their produce. This is a shining example of the significant impact that the right investment can have on rural communities, and the concept of investing in agriculture to promote growth. The ball is therefore in the court of the potato farmers of Nkongle production basin and as it is often said, it is for them to make hay while the sun shines.