In a hangar made of boards in Nyalla, a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Douala, several dozen crates full of green or slightly ripened tomatoes are waiting to be delivered. "These are the orders of a trader," says William Mouachi Kameni, a 31-year old farmer. At the moment business is quite successful for this young man who holds a baccalaureate diploma. The price of a crate of tomatoes sold for 4000 CFA francs has doubled in the last two months. During the last season, he collected 100 tonnes for a profit of 1.5 million CFA francs. William hopes to earn more in the current season.
A few meters of the warehouse, a green area of cultivated land extends out of sight. Here, on a plot of 1000m2, he grows leek and vegetables. A little further, small green tomatoes spread over several furrows. Besides these horticultural products, the broad green leaves of cocoyam are visible in various parts of the field. Watermelons, chilli, peppers, potatoes, yams, cassava ... are other types of food grown on the farm.
A profitable sector
Last year, the production of all these agricultural products enabled the young farmer to get a profit of about 6 million CFA francs.
William has been working in agriculture since 2008 and is already reaping the fruits of his work. With the revenues earned from agriculture, he bought a housing land earlier this year. "The construction works of my future home are underway. I hope that by end of the year they will be completed", he says proudly. These revenues also enable him to pay school fees for his two young children, and for his sister-in-law. And he intends to purchase another agricultural parcel.
Unfortunately, the practice of agriculture has not always been successful for William. At first, due to a lack of funding to pay for labour and machinery, working days were painful and endless. "My wife was helping me. We would go to the field every morning at 6 am and stay until 8 pm because there was an enormous amount of work", he recalls. In addition, the results were not according to the expectations. "We bought improved seeds, fertilizers, fungicides and herbicides in insufficient quantities because we lacked money. Therefore, the crops were poor", says William. To make matters worse, the production has often been affected by climate change. "At the beginning, during the months of December, January and February we were cultivating in a wet lowland. Every time, heavy rain would fall in the dry season and would almost destroy our plants!", complains the young farmer.
Unity is power
To cope with the problem of funding, William opted for cassava and potato crops. "The advantage of these tubers, he explains, is that they do not require a considerable financial investment in phytosanitary treatment". The revenues from the sale of these commodities have allowed William to engage in market gardening, which requires a larger investment. "These products have allowed me to make large profits in a short time," he says , delighted.
Practicing agriculture has become less restrictive since William became a member, in 2010, of an association of young farmers called "Gic for agriculture, livestock and soap making in Cameroon", in short Aelfacam: he receives free advice and guidance from agricultural extension agents of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER). The members of this organization were funded by the Project of Young Farmers (Paja) for banana production.
Building on the success of his activities, William’s ambition is to become a great farmer. "My dream, he says, would be to have 25 hectares of arable land".
To increase production and improve his income, the young man would like to have access to credit, in order to buy a tractor.