GardenDrumCameroon’s first eco-village finds traditional methods work best

Scene from Ndanifor Permaculture Eco-village in Bafut in Cameroon’s Northwest Region Photo Mbom Sixtus IPS copy‘Permaculture African style’ – an eco-village in Cameroon has found that rejecting newer styles of commercial cropping and fertilising for traditional methods, including spiritual forests, means better soil fertility, yields and food security for its people.

Farmers in Bafut, Cameroon’s Northwest Region had been persuaded in past decades to grow commercial cash crops like coffee and cocoa, and use artificial fertilisers and imported seed. The result was increasing poverty and food insecurity.

Now a new approach is using indigenous knowledge about sustainable land practices to turn that around, creating the Ndanifor Permaculture Eco-village which practises ‘permaculture the African way‘ according to Joshua Konkankoh, a Cameroonian farmer and founder of Better World Cameroon. This style of permaculture embraces ecological, social, economic and also spiritual systems and needs.

The Ndanifor Permaculture Eco-village employs traditional building techniques and materials like earth bricks and grass roofs to reduce waste and create climate-appropriate dwellings and also the use of earthen stoves to limit reliance on burning wood for fuel.

Joshua Konkankoh, founder of Cameroon’s first and only eco-village shows off some nitrogen-fixing trees. Photo Credit Mbom Sixtus?IPS

Joshua Konkankoh, founder of Cameroon’s first and only eco-village shows off some nitrogen-fixing trees. Photo Credit Mbom Sixtus?IPS

Farming techniques include planting nitrogen-fixing trees, intercropping, planting windbreaks, and combatting erosion. The Eco-village also encourages planting crops that can be consumed locally, rather than traded, as growing cash crops often results in exploitation by middle men and international companies and fewer opportunities for local people. This also provides villagers with long-term food security.

Most importantly, the Eco-village promotes local indigenous knowledge about protecting biodiverse ‘spiritual forests’.  As Konkankoh says:

“Biodiversity was protected by traditional beliefs. Felling of some trees and killing of certain animal species in certain forests were prohibited. They were protected by gods and ancestors. We want to protect such heritage.”

Each year, the Eco-village runs a summer (August) camp where you can learn about ‘permaculture African style’. Typical cost for international participants for the 10 day course is 200 € ($300USD) for accommodation, all meals and course participation.

You can learn more, including ways to support the Ndanifor Permaculture Eco-village at Better World Cameroon.

Scene from Ndanifor Permaculture Eco-village in Bafut in Cameroon’s Northwest Region, the country’s first and only eco-village which is based on the principle that the answer to food insecurity lies in sustainable and organic methods of farming. Credit: Mbom Sixtus/IPS

Scene from Ndanifor Permaculture Eco-village in Bafut in Cameroon’s Northwest Region, the country’s first and only eco-village which is based on the principle that the answer to food insecurity lies in sustainable and organic methods of farming. Credit: Mbom Sixtus/IPS

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