Case Study 11 Model Solutions
Education Programmes at the Limbe Botanic Garden
- The Model Chop-Farm
- The School Environmental Programme
- The Musa Genetic History Collection
The Model Chop Farm
The Limbe area is faced with limits on available land, with restrictions placed on the community by plantations and reserves. Because of these restrictions farmers need to be aware of and use intensive production techniques. We came up with the model chop (food crop) farm as a way to inform the public about some of these techniques.
The Model Chop-Farm is located on land rising from a narrow plain along the banks of River Limbe on to a steep slope on the eastern hill in the garden. Our aim is to initiate a dry season vegetable garden and so on the plain we grow plantain/cocoyams. Next to this, on the lower part of the adjacent slope, we grow maize, pulses, sweet potatoes, cassava and yams.
On this lower part we have constructed contour bands and practice flat cultivation. Hedges are planted in the area, while nitrogen-fixing trees are grown on the bands. Higher up we grow pineapples. Because they form a cover crop, the danger of erosion is reduced.
Towards the uppermost part of the slope the gradient forbids cultivation. Here we have established an orchard. We believe that this is a proper model for the locality because most farms around Limbe are on slopes.
We demonstrate and use fertility maintenance practices, including return of crop residue, crop rotation, intercropping, organic manuring (farmyard manure, compost, mulch), green manuring, fertilisers, minimum tillage and agroforestry.
These practices provide a great diversity of produce for farmers, ensuring some security against crop failure, whilst helping dampen the "peaks and troughs" in the labour cycle, as well as increasing profits.
The School Environmental Programme
This was established in 1991 as an outreach programme. The aim of the programme is to carry an environmental conservation message to a greater number of school children than are able to actually visit the garden. It involves five schools, both primary and secondary, which have been involved in activities with a conservation theme. Activities include school landscape planning competitions, the formation of a nature club, the planting of a school orchard and a school nursery, and the organisation of various slide and video shows.
The garden staff have also worked with a local NGO, the Cameroon Environmental Education Programme of ‘CEEP’. CEEP specialises in environmental education in schools and communities within the south west province, and has been able to provide workshops for teachers in the gardens, as well as contributing other resources and advice on an ad hoc basis.
We have found that working with a specialist NGO, such as CEEP, which understands the educational sector, knows the local schools and their staff, and has already negotiated appropriate agreements with the ministry, has been an effective way to develop outreach educational programmes.
The Musa Genetic History Collection
This is aimed at educating the public about the history of the Musa species and their evolution. Bananas and plantains constitute one of the principal food crops of the tropical world. They are so common in our society that it is difficult to convince people that they are exotics. In the display, various levels of evolution have been arranged in a pattern to radiate from the parent stock in a sort of tree diagram. An information board with a planting map is provided.