Technology in agriculture – Towards the smart village
For several months now, Kongossa Technology has initiated a smart city project with multiple test sites in Cameroon. As part the initial phase of this project, I visited Cameroon on one of the project’s pilot site: Mbankomo.
Mbankomo is a township of Cameroon located in the Center region at 25 km south-west of Yaoundé, the capital city. It is also a district of the department of Méfou-et-Akono. Mbankomo is home to the Mbankomo Academic Sports Center. Mbankomo takes its name from Mount Mbankomo; a chain of rocky hills stretching from Eloumden to Zok-Yie via Okong, Nkomekui and Messebe.
Uninhabited then, the site of the current Mbankomo City becomes a place of exploitation of tobacco and banana on the arrival of the Germans (around 1900). It was only when the Germans departed, after World War I that the ethnic groups Mvog Fouda and Tsoung Mballa settled in a progressive manner. The main activity of the population is then agriculture. It is the bill No. 59/44 of June 17th 1959 which will establish the municipality of Mbankomo. However, the district of Mbankomo was only founded from March 13th 1974. Thus, as soon as the local population settled in, so did the Catholic Church in 1952. Then was the creation of the primary school in 1955, followed by the police station in 1978, and the highway in 1982.
The decision to have one of our sites in this region can be explained by its geographical position. It is located at the entrance of Yaoundé (about 22 km) and on the road that leads to the economic capital, Douala. In addition, agriculture also occupies a prominent position:
It occupies more than 90 to 95% of the working population. Being a subsistence-oriented agriculture, it concentrates particularly on food crops and more specifically on cassava which holds the high ground. Indeed, cassava remains the most cultivated on an individual scale as well as by agricultural associations, ranging from one to twenty five hectares of land; Other crops (nonetheless important) are cocoyam, plantain, corn, peanut, sweet potato, Yam, Tomato, and even Non-Timer Forest Products (NTFP) such as cola, wild mango, hazelnuts, and others. It should be noted that these cultures are mostly the prerogative of women who invest in such massively. In regards to cash crops, we have cocoa, palm oil tree, and fruit trees. This activity remains carried out mostly by women and elites. Source: CVUC
The first on-site mission
It has been 3 days since I was in Cameroon and one of my main objectives was to visit our “test site” located in Mbankomo, about 20 km from Yaoundé (at least I thought). For the record, we had to manage everything from Canada, thanks to the ground work of our local manager Eric K. So this trip was quite exciting for me: I was finally going to see the result of several hours of work and cogitation.
Before reporting on the journey, it is important to understand what Mbankomo represents: Mbankomo is our mini lab; it is the place where we want to test all our agricultural and ecological experiences before applying them to our “smart village”; this is the place where we test our vision.
To get there Eric and Christian (the driver who had already made this trip prior), required that we travel with a SUV due to the state of the road. In theory the trip is supposed to last 20 minutes, but the village where our “lab” is located is rather 20 minutes from Mbankomo. We arrived on site in a good mood and dazzled by the beautiful scenery and fresh air. We went to meet Bernard, the person who is looking after our equipment. The storage, made of local material, was one of my favorite sights. Our site was located just behind, so we went right away.
The machetes we grabbed in the storage were proven useful because the trail was dotted with tall grass that had to be pushed aside to advance. In front of us I could see the land that we had started to exploit for less than 4 months; one hectare of plantain and some cocoa stalks. You could see the seeded plants and traffic was fairly easy as the site had been cleaned recently. After 40 minutes on site, walking and asking questions, we went back to Bernard’s courtyard.
The evidences which were imposed on us after all my questions were those that our executive team had already detected: it was imperative to have a permanent presence on this site and build our green house as quickly as possible.