Smart Agriculture in Cameroon Minimizes Greenhouse Gases

Reader Contribution by Pierre U. Ferrari
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At a time when greenhouse gas emissions from cars and electricity generation around the world are at an all-time high, Heifer International in Cameroon is leading initiatives and programming to help reduce such emissions from livestock production there.

Bih Judith lives in the village of Njong in Santa, Cameroon. She first got involved with dairy cattle farming in 2009 as a way to escape hunger and poverty. Five years later, Judith has a steady source of income, and she and her family eat balanced meals three times a day. At 43, Judith has succeeded in establishing a new life for her family. However, more than 70 liters of cow dung are produced daily from her stables, creating a possible threat to the environment.

Renewable Biogas Energy in Cameroon

Through Heifer Cameroon’s training and support, Judith’s household, along with nearly 100 other families, set up domestic biogas units. Judith now cooks with biogas instead of wood, which saves trees and increases access to clean, renewable energy. She also practices integrated dairy cattle farming, rearing three dairy cattle using a zero-grazing system. She has enough dung to maintain her biogas unit year round.

Ban Patience also lives in Njong and benefits from Heifer’s support and training. She says the effects of climate change are felt by the hotter weather they are experiencing in the community. Patience, who is raising three goats and three dairy cattle, was taught that using cattle dung to generate biogas reduces emissions of greenhouse gases and is much cleaner than burning fuel wood and coal. She, like Judith, uses biogas to cook and now plants trees in her community.  She and her family have always used wood to fuel their fires and heat their homes, but now their use of biogas helps to save their environment, time and about $10 each month.

“This is my own little contribution to fighting climate change,” she says proudly.

Patience also uses a biogas byproduct called bio-slurry as a natural fertilizer. Bio-slurry contains 93 percent water and 7 percent waste and is a ready-made, high quality, organic fertilizer that can be used in fields to grow crops. The use of bio-slurry decreases the use of costly chemical fertilizers, which saves the environment and their income. Thanks to bio-slurry, agricultural productivity has increased for Patience and her family.

Patience is now financially empowered and manages a bank account she opened in her own name.

Natural Fertilizer from Biogas Effluent

Fon Linus, another farmer in Njong, is also reaping rewards from biogas. Using biogas helps him cut down on the use of wood, and he uses bio-slurry on his crops and vegetable farm plots. Linus, along with many other farmers in his community, has stopped using chemical fertilizers since adopting the use of bio-slurry.

“I replaced chemical fertilizers with cattle manure and I have adopted organic ways of farming,” Linus explains. “I found that through organic farming, crops had longer lives, generated more income, and were healthier to eat.”

Fon Asa’ah, known in Njong as “His Royal Majesty,” says the farmers who have benefited from Heifer are role models in the community. “They are championing the cause of environmental protection and teaching us how to care for the Earth.”

Heifer Cameroon continues to encourage improved livestock breeding and simple technology practices like zero-grazing, biogas units and the use of bio-slurry. Thanks to their continued support, farm efficiency and production has gone up without damaging the environment. This leads to more food and a higher income for people like Judith, Patience, and Linus.

What do you do to help bring your carbon footprint down?