From Food Insecurity to Climate-Smart Agriculture: An Interview with Okon Archibong Ukeme

Okon Archibong Ukeme is passionate about food security and sustainable agriculture. This led him and project partner Nadia Ndum Foy to win the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) Young Earth Solutions (YES!) Research Grant Competition in 2015. Their project, Eco-Sustainable Gardens: Empowering Minority Women, addresses food insecurity among Mbororo women in Cameroon. The project works with minority women to establish gardens for household consumption and income generation, while encouraging gardening practices with a low ecological footprint.

Food Tank had the opportunity to talk with Ukeme and discuss his Eco-Sustainable Gardens project and his thoughts on minority group access to food, maintaining healthy soils, and climate-smart agriculture.

Food Tank (FT): Congratulations on your project Eco-Sustainable Gardens: Empowering Minority Women winning the BCFN YES! Competition in 2015. Could you tell us about the project?

Okon Archibong Ukeme (OAU): Ebile Pride, a member of PROTUS e.V. (Association for the Promotion of Teaching and Research for the Tropics and Subtropics at the University of Hohenheim e.V.), came up with the idea for the Eco-Sustainable Gardens project. The project’s goal is to improve food security and nutrition in Mbororo households in Cameroon’s northeastern region. It was designed to improve physical and economic access to nutritious food through gardening and facilitating access to markets.

The Mbororo are traditionally a cattle breeding tribe. The people benefiting from the project are Mbororo women who experience economic difficulties and possible food shortages during periods of transhumance; a time when the Mbororo men migrate with their cattle to areas with better access to pasture. Mbororo women depend on their husbands economically; a situation made worse by the fact that they are not traditionally involved in crop production and do not have self-produced stock to fall back on.

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