The farms have been set up under a government programme to improve the availability of quality seeds or planting materials for maize, cassava, beans, yams and plantains and make them easily accessible by needy farmers.
The programme is being implemented by the Southwest Development Authority (SOWEDA) in Buea, Ekona, Barombi Kang, Kumba and other areas. “For agriculture to be successful, it starts with quality planting material,” says Christopher Ekungwe, regional delegate of agriculture for the Southwest.
He says in the past some farmers used seeds from their previous harvest, but such seeds lost some vital characteristics having been affected by prolonged drought and did not produce as much as the improved ones offered by SOWEDA. The expansion of the project to all the six divisions in the region is also attracting many farmers from other parts of the country.
“We are happy the seed multiplication farms are expanding as many more farmers from other parts of the country are attracted to the high yield seeds,” says Ekungwe. Farmers attest the project has reduced their worries over plummeting yields linked to climate change and significantly improved their production, incomes and capacity to employ more youth.
“We now get the regular supply of quality and adapted seeds at affordable prices thanks to the seed multiplication farms,” says Divine Nkeng, a 33-year-old farmer in Buea.
“With quality seeds guaranteeing high yields as well as a free training programme, many more youth are now attracted to farming.” Experts say the seed sector has immense potential to create employment for many young people in sub-Saharan Africa and reduce poverty through increased production and income to the farmers.
Adolph Njokwe, a maize farmer in Muyuka in the Southwest region, says in the past two years he has produced more than twice what he harvested before thanks to the quality seeds from the multiplication farms.