Cameroon, often referred to as “Africa in miniature”, is one of the most diversified countries in sub-Saharan Africa with respect to its agro-ecology: from a Sudano-Sahelian North to humid forests in the Centre, South and East regions. The forests which represent about 40% percent of Cameroon’s national territory form an important part of the Congo Basin characterized by a closed canopy moist tropical forest.
Depending on the particular environment major crops peculiar to most African countries such as rice, wheat, barley, maize, cassava, potatoes, plantains/bananas, yams and also cocoa and coffee etc. are produced in Cameroon. It can be said almost with certainty that the agricultural production systems practiced in Cameroon are similar to those of most African countries whereby the predominant practice of farming is to incorporate many crops on a parcel of land in crop associations. While for many African countries land allocated for the production of food crops may be big, for most of the countries the farm sizes are pretty small.
In Cameroon, the land tenure systems range from inheritance, renting and ownership, with the state and traditional rulers having exclusive rights over most lands and will sell or distribute without due consideration given for agricultural purposes. Labour, which is a very critical resource, is the scarcest. Productive and cultivable lands are located farther from the homes due to land scarcity and shifting cultivation practices. All these and more are the perennial problems that the Cameroon farmer and the African farmer have to cope with in their respective countries. The goal of this paper is to address the challenges and options for improving agricultural production and productivity in Africa with the objective of enhancing food security and the livelihoods of the people of the continent. While production refers to the volume, value or quantity of goods and services produced by a worker, plant, firm or economy; productivity is a measure of output from a production process, per unit of input.
The problems facing Agriculture in the African Continent have been well researched on and documented (IFPRI, 2011, FAO 2006, New Harvest 2011). IFPRI notes that in spite of the progress made in the last decade, poverty and malnutrition remain a serious problem in Sub Saharan Africa. Available statistics shows that while agricultural production increased to 12.3% of GDP in 2009, yet 72.9% of the population live on less than 2USD/day, 27.5% consume inadequate calories, and 23.6% of the children under five years old are underweight. The FAO reporting on hunger and undernourishment makes it categorically clear that when a country does not produce enough food to feed its people, the people will live to be undernourished.