My first trip to the field has helped me in ways that I didn’t even think possible. The three-month field work that changed my idea of success started with Field Technician, Shu Joram, at the agro-complex at Mambu in Bafut, Bamenda, North West Region.

On that first trip, I picked loads of knowledge and experience in agroforestry that I don’t see myself ever going close to poverty in the future. Even if I am out of school today, and cannot find any employer to give me a job, I think with a little capital, I will be heading straight to success.  

Shu Joram is an amazing guide full of spirit, knowledgeable and very passionate about agroforestry. We visited some agroforestry farmers and the Chief of Post of Agriculture. This ushered me into the first phase of the field work: mushroom cultivation. We rallied saw dust, made it moist and sterilized.  After spawning the mushroom seeds inside the saw dust wrapped in black plastics, we took them to the incubation room for reproduction. This was a wonderful activity because in my life, I had never imagined that mushrooms could be grown by humans. 

Plantain plantlet multiplication was the second activity that we undertook. This, we did using the bud manipulation technique which involves suppressing the terminal and lateral buds of plantain and banana corms so that more can develop, giving rise to more plantlets. After manipulating the buds, we took them to a saw dust propagator for incubation and growth. It was surprising to me because I thought plantain could only be multiplied through suckers. 

After the plantain plantlet multiplication, I took part in the rooting, cutting, potting and acclimatization from the giant propagator to a shade and finally to the macroclimate. This was another thrilling experience.

We also nursed and planted agroforestry tree species like Moringa olifera using the acacia tree species as life fences. 

With the help of Shu Joram, I practised marcotting on a plum and mango tree. After marcotting, came the almighty grafting! This was what I was really longing to do. But then, I didn’t just graft the plant, but my finger too! 

The next on the list was nursery establishment and management. I nursed, labeled and assembled plants in the nursery; watered them each morning and evening and weeded the nursery. This was great. 

The last and most exciting part of the trip was manure composting. Here, we put together used mushroom substrate, animal dung, wood ash, and acacia leaves; dug a pit and put the composition in. The compost would bready for use after some months. 

I can’t help but thank the management of the ERuDeF Institute of Biodiversity and Non-profit Studies (ERuDeF Institute) for organizing the trip. 

Ndutu Marie

ERuDeF Institue Agroforestry trainee