WCS, Stakeholders offer Support to Farmers in Cross Rivers
By Grace Samuel
Farmers cultivating cocoa, ogbono (bush mango), and engaging in beekeeping in Cross River State have received substantial support aimed at enhancing their production levels. This initiative, spearheaded by various stakeholders and organizations, particularly benefits women groups residing in the Cross River National Park (CRNP) and neighboring communities.
To address the specific needs of cocoa farmers, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has provided high-yielding cocoa seedlings and technical training to enhance production. Recognizing the importance of diversified crops, women groups have been equipped with improved varieties of bush mango suitable for the dry season, promoting faster growth compared to wet season varieties.
Dr. Imong Inayom, the deputy country director of WCS, highlighted the collaborative efforts during a meeting with CRNP stakeholders. Women have been organized into cooperatives, receiving training on planting bush mangoes and constructing small storage facilities. The WCS actively assists in selling produce at fair prices, safeguarding women from potential exploitation by merchants offering lower rates.
For cocoa farmers, technical training, cocoa pods, and seedlings have been provided, addressing the resource gaps that hindered many farmers in the area. The WCS sourced improved cocoa seedlings from the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) in Ibadan, aiming to establish new cocoa plantations and discourage clearing old ones.
In the realm of beekeeping, several bee farmers have undergone technical training and received materials such as beehives, protective clothing, and baits to attract bees. This comprehensive support has not only motivated local beekeepers but also contributed to increased honey production. The WCS actively participates in purchasing the produced honey, contributing to the economic sustainability of bee farmers.
Beyond crops and beekeeping, the WCS has provided essential farming aids, including rain boots, wheelbarrows, and tarpaulins to female farmers growing bush mango and cocoa. Overall, over 4,000 locals in the CRNP have benefited from these farming aids, showcasing a holistic approach to supporting local agriculture.
Farmers like Mrs. Angela Ntui, a bee farmer, and Ntufam Denis Francis, a cocoa farmer, attest to the tangible benefits of these interventions. The support not only enhances agricultural productivity but also empowers local communities, emphasizing the positive impact of collaborative efforts in sustainable farming practices.