The Cameroonian Minister of Agriculture, Gabriel Mbairobe, officially launched the 2022 agricultural season in the northern part of the country on 2 June 2022 in the town of Mora, in the Far North region.
During this ceremony, Cameroon Tribune, the daily newspaper with public capital revealed, this member of government drew up the balance sheet of the 2021 agricultural campaign. This was marked in the Far North region by a cereal deficit of 74,560 tons, against only 15,560 tons in 2020. This shows an increase in the deficit of 58,919 tonnes year-on-year, or 378% in relative terms.
This explosion of the cereal deficit in the Far North region, an important production basin of cereals, which occupy a predominant place in the food habits of the populations of the three northern regions of Cameroon, is due to conflicts, the ravages of the army worm, attacks by granivorous birds and the destruction of plantations by pachyderms.
Indeed, it is recalled that in February 2021, roaming elephants had officially destroyed about 240 hectares of cereal fields (maize, millet, cotton, groundnuts) in the departments of Mayo-Danay and Mayo-Kani, both located in the Far North region. The same phenomenon occurred in October 2021 in Mayo-Kani. A herd of about 500 elephants left its natural shelter and destroyed several dozen hectares of crops in the locality of Moulvoudaye, according to local sources.
Climate change as core factor
“The natural environment known for elephants is the Waza Park, which covers 153,000 hectares. Thirty years ago, the problem did not arise. Then, at some point, the elephants split into two groups. They moved seasonally, i.e. during difficult periods, to biotopes where water and grasses were easily available. Thanks to their biological clock, these elephants would return to Waza Park when the time came. But, given the climate change, living conditions are becoming harsher in Waza and elephants do not return easily,” says Jean David Ndjida, the regional delegate of forests and wildlife for the Far North, who explains the reasons for the regular invasion of fields by elephants in this part of the country.
Apart from the ravages of pachyderms on crops, the departments of Logone and Chari and Mayo Tsanaga, in the Far North region, were, at the end of 2021, the scene of an invasion of granivorous birds. According to local sources, these birds had attacked no less than 1,500 hectares of cereals. “These birds nest either inside the Waza National Park or in the red zone on the Nigerian side When sorghum is in the milky phase, it becomes their favourite food. That is why, if left unchecked, these birds can wipe out production,” an official from the Ministry of Agriculture told the regional tri-weekly L’oeil du Sahel, explaining the phenomenon.
The army worm, a major pest of cereals such as maize and sorghum, does not usually attack only the northern part of Cameroon. In 2018, for example, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, it was reported in seven of Cameroon’s 10 regions, endangering 75% of the country’s cereal production, according to public authorities.