At 64, Bernard Njonga made himself the soul of the agricultural world in Cameroon. An agronomist by coaching, a graduate of the Agronomic Analysis Institute, the publication director of the month-to-month La Voix du paysan is a staunch defender of Cameroonian agriculture. This son of a pastor and a farming mom born in Bangoua, within the west of Cameroon, has labored for a number of years within the growth of the agro-pastoral world. Friend of the alterglobalist French José Bové, he’s additionally recognized to have denounced embezzlement within the corn sector and the introduction of GMOs when he headed the Citizen Affiliation for the Protection of Collective Pursuits (Acdic).
Bernard Njonga additionally campaigns in opposition to the import and consumption of frozen hen in Cameroon. In the present day on the head of Imagine in Cameroon (CRAC), his political celebration, after his withdrawal from the race for the final presidential election, he’s a candidate within the legislative election on February 9 in Cameroon. The activist plans to carry the voice of the agricultural world to Parliament.
On this interview with Sputnik, Bernard Njonga traces the principle strains of his battle for the event of the agricultural world and his future political problem.
Picture. Bernard Njonga
Bernard Njonga, President of CRAC.
Sputnik: You’re thought-about a fervent defender of the agricultural world in view of your a number of fights. How did this ardour for agriculture come about?
Bernard Njonga: “My ardour was born from my mom, whom I at all times accompanied within the discipline work. The sector was the central aspect of her life: it was there that it was realized and flourished. My father being completely absorbed by his pastoral actions, it was my mom who cultivated. She mastered the whole lot: manufacturing, but in addition conservation, processing, sale and above all of the administration of household reserves. Youngsters naturally participated in agricultural work. We had been, two of my sisters and I with typically cousins, required to take part in virtually all of the nation duties alongside our mother: clearing, buttering, sowing, weeding, harvesting, drying, treating, preserving, reworking and even typically promote. At each second and relying on the kind of exercise, my mother and father knew encourage and reward us. It was by promoting the excess merchandise from the harvest and the breeding that my mother and father assumed my schooling till the tip of highschool. Farming supported my entire household merely, however with dignity. “
Sputnik: You’ve fairly often argued that Cameroon has fertile and diversified land throughout 5 agro-ecological zones. However how can we perceive that Cameroon remains to be lagging behind by way of growth regardless of all this potential?
Bernard Njonga: “This potential is just not acknowledged by decision-makers. We lack a political imaginative and prescient, a growth mission that integrates this pure wealth. All tasks which might be designed for the event of our entire nation are likely to ignore our agricultural potential. We’re keen to take a position elsewhere, when we have now potential and individuals who simply have to be valued to supply wealth. ”
Sputnik: Is the absence of political will the one impediment to deplore within the agricultural growth of Cameroon?
Bernard Njonga: “The foremost drawback is the one who decides. The one that offers the route and who decides the route we take and the targets we set with this potential and the means we make investments to attain this objective. The day you will have somebody who embodies this imaginative and prescient on the head of the nation, human energies can be deployed. The safety and enhancement of pure assets and the surroundings can be a actuality. We’re lacking an individual who can direct our growth in direction of this imaginative and prescient. An individual able to recognizing the place of agriculture in our growth. ”
Sputnik: By means of an idea that you simply baptized “The 40 measures to make Cameroon take off in 5 years”, you supply clear options to get Cameroon out of the abyss of underdevelopment. How can agriculture be a severe answer to the nation's financial state of affairs?
Bernard Njonga: “If we take a look at the newest figures, we’re speaking concerning the 1000’s of billions of CFA francs that we spend on importing meals. Meals that we might produce regionally. Not too long ago, 5,000 hectares of land have been granted to the Turks for the manufacturing of maize in Cameroon in Adamawa, whereas native producers are doing nothing. Farmers who lack seeds are left to fend for themselves. Native producers whose vocation is to supply corn are uncared for in favor of international buyers, these are aberrations that depart us perplexed. Why not give the chance to native producers to work on this house? We’ve the human assets able to growing our pure assets. These political choices go in opposition to unemployment amongst younger folks and our producers. ”
Sputnik: You’ve waged a cruel combat up to now in opposition to the importation of frozen hen into Cameroon. What had been your fundamental motivations?
Bernard Njonga: “We fought in order that the nationwide potential for poultry manufacturing wouldn’t be overused and that frozen hen wouldn’t be imported to stifle the nationwide poultry sector. We obtained the outcomes of this combat in March 2006: import of frozen chicken cuts has been banned. We’ve seen how the nationwide poultry sector took off. Thus far, momentum has remained regardless of chook flu and neglect of politicians.
In the present day, the Turks have come to supply corn for the manufacturing of feed on the market to pastoralists and one other battle is on the best way. As regards this feed, corn constitutes 70% of the elements. So they arrive to Cameroon to supply this corn, to market the feed on our market. ”
Sputnik: You’re the publication director of the newspaper La Voix du paysan. What’s the editorial positioning of your newspaper and why?
Bernard Njonga: “The newspaper was created in 1988 with the purpose of sharing the expertise of the peasants. However in a short time, we understood that if we aren’t cautious, whereas we’re content material to indicate the peasants who develop beans, corn in rural areas, the selections that have an effect on his life can be made with out him. For this reason we determined to commit ourselves additionally to coaching peasants to divulge heart’s contents to the socio-political lifetime of our nation. We strive as finest we are able to to maintain the soul of the newspaper. La Voix du paysan has a considerable variety of subscribers. We’ve a digital model which can be substantial by way of subscription. For every manufacturing, the numbers have been looked for, and this for thirty years. It's good as a result of we have now stayed true to our editorial line. ”
Sputnik: In 2018, along with your political celebration CRAC (Imagine in Cameroon), you introduced your candidacy for the presidential election earlier than giving up quickly after. Why did you flip round?
Bernard Njonga: “The CRAC software was withdrawn for numerous causes. We hadn’t had sufficient time to clarify our mission to the producers, it wasn’t recognized but, it was a bit untimely. The second purpose is the political local weather which didn’t flip within the route of growth. We encountered political politics and but we had been a part of a growth method inside the CRAC.
Additionally, we noticed it coming a tribal divide within the electorate which didn’t herald a wholesome environment for this election. For 2020, I can be a deputy. My candidacy was retained for the legislative elections in Moungo North (Littoral area, Editor's observe), the listing of our secretary common was retained in Diamaré (Excessive North area, Editor's observe). We’ve a couple of municipalities that we have now contested for. We begin on the base with the peasants and evolve crescendo. ”
Sputnik: What makes you wish to become involved politically while you had been beforehand a member of civil society?
Bernard Njonga: “Civil society speaks, however doesn’t have the means to behave. I carried the plea to the highest stage, I mentioned with the Presidency. However that didn’t give me the means to behave on the direct issues that we posed. And that is the actual drawback of civil society, there are folks as we speak who come to see me to request monetary help to combine into rural areas. I at all times inform them that I’ve no cash. I’ve no cash as a result of I spent my time speaking to partitions. Politicians don't perceive.
The proper illustration is the case of the 5,000 hectares allotted to the Turks in Adamawa. This work was to be entrusted to native peasants. My many battles in opposition to frozen chickens and others make me say that it is very important maintain a step in civil society, as a result of it permits us to know the realities of our fellow residents.
On the similar time, we try to take one other step in politics with the intention to nibble on some means to implement what we proposed yesterday and which no one needed to use. We’ll construct an advocacy, based mostly on our expertise as a civil society, to debate legal guidelines that go within the route of the enhancement of our agricultural potential. We wish to take the combat to a different stage, to subsidize agriculture within the type of a manufacturing bonus for farmers. No one has recognized or accepted the mission in its depth within the administration.
In Parliament, nevertheless, we are able to combat to acquire it within the type of a regulation. It will likely be utilized. And farmers who present dedication and inventiveness may benefit from subsidies like all over the place else on this planet within the type of a manufacturing bonus. We’ll make proposals that we are going to defend, argue over the debates. It will likely be a query of bringing the deputies of the opposite parliamentary teams to know and undertake this mission. We want three communes. In 5 years, we’ll make a number of fashions of growth in agriculture. Our CRAC election marketing campaign comes right down to agricultural coaching periods that we do village by village. ”
Sputnik: What do you consider the political state of affairs in Cameroon? What affect on the agricultural plan?
Bernard Njonga: “I’ve talked quite a bit with the opposite leaders of the opposition political events. We don't agree on the substance. In my view, the actual drawback in Cameroon is poverty. In rural areas folks battle to earn 1,000 CFA francs a day. Till their residing situations are improved, don't count on them to take part in huge debates and large fights. It’s not doable. In rural areas, the peasant has his bodily power and God gave him nature. Allow us to assist him put his bodily power into the transformation of this nature in an clever means. There is no such thing as a space for growth so simple as agriculture. ”