by Isabella Bonetti
“Permaculture as a viable possibility for food security. The case of Better World Cameroon.” From these few words written in Italy last summer came an incredible experience in Cameroon. I spent three months researching this topic and growing every day in my new identity of ‘Sirri ‘as local people renamed me. At the beginning I was looking around like a baby confused by the environment full of attractions until soon I started feeling the sense of my presence in this place, being part of it.
The books helped introduce me, word by word, but soon I discovered Africa is truly (made of) sounds and here words fly making noises full of sense. Especially in this region, the stories tell about the land, the ancestors and the community that are the fundamental elements of the system but, of course, things are changing and this is the time to be aware and make choices.
While mainstream thinking operates from the idea of a second generation agriculture, my first interest has become the question: “Can Permaculture be an alternative able to guarantee food security?” In the past weeks, with the help of Sonita, I spent my time in the villages asking questions, listening and meeting people, mostly farmers. We looked into their life and their knowledge and they welcomed us gently and generously. It was amazing to see how they are already in a Permaculture view, practicing mixed cropped production and creating social activities to share surplus and knowledge.
But, as on one side some bad practices (like slash and burn) have been decreasing, on the other hand new chemicals are promising yields never seen. The fact is that people are feeling a growing necessity of money to guarantee a decent livelihood and a challenge will be to involve the youths.
Isabella Bonetti is a Master Student at Bologna University, Italy. She spent 3 months with Better World Bamenda. As researcher and volunteer she touched everyone with her good spirit.