“Growing vegetables and growing my garden is how I feed my family and make a living,” said Nanyango (pictured above), an agriculturalist and president of her farming group in Bai Foe Mbonge Cameroon. “It is how I help my daughters succeed in their studies.”

But flourishing as a farmer often hinges on purchasing seeds and fertilizer and developing the business acumen necessary to thrive in a competitive market.

Agriculturalists in Africa, like Nanyango, face multiple barriers to growing a bountiful harvest that is also financially successful, even after paying for farming inputs. The costs of fertilizers, pesticides, seeds, equipment, and transportation can dramatically reduce profits.

With Funds from Trodos, we discovered that members had common anxieties and challenges: While the women tending the garden made strides in financing, growing and selling their produce together, many lamented losses in soil fertility, detrimental pest infestations, and the expense of chemical inputs.

Composting was new for the community, but it met their needs on multiple levels. It provided an environmentally-friendly gardening technique that would enrich the soil, and the women’s group was already interested in the health benefits of organic produce. Best of all, it was also free. The women already had all the raw inputs they needed to create a compost pile—green nitrogen-rich weeds they clear from their farms, dead grasses and other debris from harvesting corn or removing rice hulls, wood ash from cooking fires or baking mud bricks, soil with local microbes, and water.

Working between three villages, Abi Fall’s and its counterpart trained 144 farmers in producing compost, organic pest repellents and pest deterrents. All of the products used inexpensive local ingredients.

They also discussed management, budgeting and marketing with seven agriculturalist groups, further strengthening the connections between farm and market. As a result of the trainings, one women’s group constructed two compost piles at their group's garden and built six piles at one member’s home garden. Motivated women’s groups are the key to improving soils and food security in Cameroon.

Women farmers in Cameroon, the land is their livelihood