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THE FARMING CIRCLE IN THE NORTHWEST REGION OF CAMEROON
Category :- Literary Corner Author :- N. GELMIN.S 
Posted on April 30, 2019, 4:28 am

CULTIVATION
The cultivating process begins immediately after the harvesting of the dry season beans which is usually done from October to late December, after which the farmers start clearing and gathering the dry grass, placing them in hips distributed within the furrows all over the piece of land alongside tilling, which is done with hoes. After this is done, the farmers are free and ready for the March rains when they start planting.

When the rains start approaching in late February, the farmers begin putting some soil on the gathered hips of grass referred to by the natives as “ankaras”. During this period, smoke is spotted in farmlands across the hills and valleys as the ankaras are been set on fire meanwhile the farmers pick up leftovers overs of cocoa yam and sweet potatoes which they roast in the hot ankaras as part of the food for work. These ankaras serve as the most fertile spots on the farms where items like; pumpkin, Irish potatoes, and cocoa yams are planted.  

While waiting for the rains, the farmers also prepare their seeds; Irish potatoes and cocoa yams seeds that have been buried in a hole for some time are removed carefully, such that the germinating buds are not destroyed, the bean seeds are well selected to avoid rotten ones whose buds cannot germinate, pumpkin seeds that have long been preserved in dry papers to avoid rotting are removed, groundnuts are cracked and selected while the corn seeds are crashed from the cubs and healthy grains selected.
 As soon as it starts raining between late February and mid-March, planting commence with each farmer planting as desired, mostly beginning from the corn. When the planting is done and seeds begin germinating and growing, insects, birds, and animals enjoy eating up the fresh sweet buds of the crops, as such, the farmers erect scarecrows on the farmlands to scare the predators away and from time to time will check and replace the destroyed seeds or the ones that could not germinate. Weeding takes place from two to three phases:

Phase 1
As the checking process is going on, weed is also growing within the crops, so between two and three weeks, weeding begins which is done carefully so that the young fragile crops are not destroyed. The stems of the crops are molded with soil from the furrows to keep them firm in the ground. The first phase weeding takes place from the 3rd week till when the crops are about 1 ½ month old and before farmers with large farmlands finish this phase, the second phase is pending as the crops keep their rapid growth alongside the weeds.

Phase 2
 During this phase, the crops must have grown over the whole farmland, remarkably, the pumpkin leaves that creep and spread across the ridges, this is often the first crop to be consumed as its fresh leaves are harvested nearly on a daily basis and eaten with corn fufu. At this phase, the soil is also needed to hold the stems, helping them withstand the heavy rains and storms of the time, most especially for the Irish potatoes and cocoa yams on the ankaras, that need heavy soil to yield well.

Phase 3
This is the last phase which is done towards the harvesting period to provide a clear and facilitating way for harvesting. It is done practically with the hands, paying much attention to only very tall grass that can hinder movement within the ridges and the furrows.
 However, every serious farmer knows that this is not all about the process since a lot of work is still to be done for the harvesting and the last cultivation of the year (the dry season beans). Therefore, everyone starts the harvesting preparations in terms of transportation and feeding, since it will no longer be a one man’s job. Check out for harvesting in part two of the circle.

Tagged Keywords:  THE FARMING CIRCLE
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