The group visited their second Heifer pig project today in the community of Santa located in the moutains above Bamenda in the NW Region of Cameroon. We were able to visit four pig farms within this community which is led by two agricultural groups: The Mbei Community Forest Common Initiative Group and the Mbei Struggling Widows Common Initiative Group. We were able to learn many things about their pig farms but most interesting of the day was learning how Producer David Njet marketed his pigs.
David and his wife have eight children. Along with their three pigs they also produce a variety of other crops including avocado, cabbage, cofee, irish potatoes, pears, carrots, green beans, spices and pumpkin — needless to say they stay extemely busy. The first tactic that David employs on his farms to get a pig marketed is to ensure his two guard dogs do their job to ward away theives which is an issue in this area. The second is to place a specific wild fruit from the surrounding forest around the tin roof of the pig pens — his rationale is that this fruit will ward off evil spirits but also it will make trespassers itch for days should they mess with his operation.
Marketing pigs is a challenge in Cameroon due to the expense of transpotation and lack of centralized packing plants to allow them to properly slaughter, store and sell their meats to urban areas. David’s tactic to sell pigs when they are ready for market (or when he needs funds) is to call his contacts in Bamenda. He then will either carry the baby piglets to the roadside in his arms or hog tie the larger pigs and sit with them by the side of the road. David claims two benefits to this method: 1) Biosecurity so no one comes directly onto his farm and 2) if the pig buyer will not meet him at a good price he will then just haul the pig(s) back down to his farm the same way he brought them. Sometimes simplicity really is the best way to go.
The afternoon was spent with the two groups. They welcomed us to their meeting house with song and dance which they coerced us to participate in — we had a great time. Among the introductions and welcome messages from our group and theirs we were able to learn a lot. The highlight of the meeting was the question and answer session. As we have a good number of veterinarians in our group the Mbei took advantage to ask questions and tap into their knowledge. Among them were issues including prolapses, stillborns, diarhea and decreasing genetic potential in their sow herds. Our veterinarians and nutritionist (Dr. Mike Pierdon, Dr. Lisa Tokach, Dr. Mike Tokach, Dr. JoeFent) were able to offer advice for these issues including a potential model for utilzing a boar stud instead of each farm housing its own boar, better bedding to avoid prolapses and making sure all dehydrated pigs with signs of diarhea have access to water constantly.
The welcome couldn’t have been said better in this blog than to share a copy of the speech that came from the President of the Mbei Community Forest group:
A WELCOME ADDRESS PRESENTED BY MBEI COMMUNITY FOREST AND STRUGGLING WIDOWS FARMING GROUPS OF MBEI VILLAGE SANTA, SUBDIVISION NORTH WEST REGION, BAMENDA – CAMEROON TO OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS FROM THE USA.
Mbei Community Forest Farming Group was created in 2002 as a Community Conservation, Afforestation and Reafforestation Group. We later learned about Heifer Project International whose mission is to alleviate rural poverty through assistance of rural needy communities with animals such as dairy cows, pigs, fowls and many others. We applied for pigs and it was granted to 10 members on May 13, 2005. With these many community members saw our achievements through improved livelihoods. Many members of the community came to the group to prepare to receive the Passing on the Gift (POG). We have therefore passed on the gift to the second group of 15 farm families on November 26, 2007. All the group members have passed their POGs.
In addition, Mbei Community Forest Farming Group has organized internal POGs to 12 families in our community sponsored fully by the group with a total of 36 animals with each family receiving three each.
With the above, the Mbei Community Forest and the Struggling Widows Farming groups are saying a million times thank you to our brothers and sister from the United States of America, welcome to Cameroon, Bamenda, Santa, Sub Division and in Mbei Village. We thank you for your concern for the poor. We are feeling your presence everyday in our community even though you are several miles away from us. With your help through Heifer Project International – Cameroon, our children are able to go to school and we are able to feed and dress well and also there has been improvement to our housing conditions.
Furthermore, we shall continue to be grateful for the various supports that accompanied these animals, such as capacity building in various disciplines, animal drugs and feed, farm inputs – just to mention a few. Our community has been awakened from slumber by HPI and stimulated by the USA. Our children can now pursue higher education with ease, we are able to pay our hospital bills implying that many sicknesses are under control. Your presence with us in our community is going to act as a booster to our interest in this pig farming which have been transformed by HPI from the old traditional methods into a modern enterprise whose end result is pig farming as a business, source of employment, with pork as supplements of our diets.
With the above, we seize this opportunity to still call on the USA to continue their support of the poor communities of Bamenda, Santa, in particular because there are many farm families still in need of your help. It is a great and wonderful concern to visit us in our homes since it is often said experience is the best teacher, we know that you are advanced in pig husbandry, we wish, if we could also have the opportunity as farmers in the same line of activity to visit the USA to carry home one or two things to implement in our community as far as pig farming is concerned since experience shall continue to remain the best teacher.
Lastly, we thank you for your concern, more grease to your elbows, we shall remember you that the concern you have for us should not be an end in itself but a means to an end.
We still need more to become an emerging economy in pig farming: educationally, financially and otherwise. We wish you a happy stay, God’s greatest blessing, safe journey back hom and extend our greetings to your families. Thanks.
Long Live Mbei Community Forest and Struggling Widows Farming Groups – Santa Long Live Heifer Project International Long Live Republic of Cameroon