RICE PRODUCTION IN CAMEROON: RISKS AND OPPORTUNITIES
BRENDALINE SHIEKE, NKENEN
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Cameroon is a country in Africa with a diverse climate and culture. More than 70% of its population is employed in the agricultural sector with rice being the staple food. The aim of this study was to assess the risks and opportunities in rice production in Cameroon, using a water productivity tool and assessing the perception of farmers towards the risks and opportunities they have. This was done through the review of literature and field visits to assess the potential of the Highlands zone and the Sudano-Sahel zones. Further, CROPWAT model and WaPOR portal were used to analyze crop water requirements and gross water biomass productivity (GWBP), respectively. Two farms were visited, and their data collected in the respective institutions to analyze their rice crop water requirements and water productivity values. Field interviews were conducted with 100 rice farmers to understand their perception on the risks associated with rice production in their locality. The Sudano-Sahel zone has a potential of 460,181.3 Ha for rainfed rice and 252,128.7 Ha for lowland rice. Also, the highland zone has the potential of 26,520 Ha for rainfed rice and 43,329 Ha for lowland rice. From the results, SEMRY seed farm in Yagoua needs 1260.2 mm (dry season) and 491.4 mm (rainy season) as irrigation water requirement, with mean annual GWBP between 0.4200 and 0.7288 kg/m3 for the Sudano-sahelian agroecological zone. UNVDA seed farm in Ndop needs 201.5 mm (rainy season) as irrigation water requirement, with mean annual GWBP between 2.4499 and 2.7455 kg/m3 for the Highlands agro-ecological zone. The most perceived risks in rice production by farmers at Yagoua, in the Sudano-sahelian are drought, inadequate funds, and fluctuations in market prices, pests, floods, water borne diseases and exploitation from input suppliers, in order of their degree of severity from the top. For the highland zones, the risks observed in rice production are; low technological know-how, inadequate funds, pests, poor roads, and irregular electricity supplies for milling. Cameroon endowed with natural resources both inland and in water. As such, a layman can say there is no cause for alarm now, but in the nearest future, with the increase in population and the country’s vision to be an emerging nation by 2035, water pricing schemes should be the next thing on the government’s agenda. The risks in rice production can be mitigated by a close collaboration of the different stakeholders involved from the family level up to the government.