The Woyo’s community of Muanda, develops the agroforestry to fight the drought

The woyo’s community is one of three local communities of the territory of Muanda in the Kongo Central Province in the West part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More than 26 villages constituted this Sector of the Atlantic coast. The woyo people live on fishing and farming. Some decades ago, this local community knows a very sensitive decrease of the harvests because of the effects of the climate change on the littoral.

François Nkenge Buiti, 69 years old, regrets the deep transformation which running the sector: 10 years ago, we have no more enough harvests because of the drought. Even the ocean does not give us enough fishes to meet our needs « , he said.

François Nkenge, the farmer at Kinkenge village
François Nkenge, the farmer at Kinkenge village

Every day, François Nkenge Buiti and Junior his grandson, 11 years old come to plough this field of cassava about 1 hectare. In spite of the capacity of adaptation of its tubers, the cassava cultivated here by the farmers suffers since a moment of a deficiency in chlorophyll,  » see yourself all sheets and leaves are yellow and some of them dried, because it doesn’t rain enough this year, I am so old, how can I make any more the manual watering? It is really difficult « , concluded with worry this farmer in Kinkenge village far from about twenty kilometers of the Muanda’s City.

The disappearance of certain local cultures and the price increase on the market

The " Niébé " from the Muanda's market
The  » Niébé  » from the Muanda’s market

The climate change which knows the coastal zone, begin to destroy seriously the ecosystems. The lack of rains in the coast makes almost impossible the development of certain cultures as peanuts and niébé.

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With its scientific name, Vigna unguiculata, the niébé or binzangi in local language, is a variety of bean very much appreciated by the population. At the local market, the glass used for selling the niébé passed from 50 to 300 Congolese francs, about 125 % of increase because of its rarity, a situation that regrets the scientists. « Muanda was considered as the granary of niébés, every year the city of Matadi and the capital city Kinshasa were furnished up by several tons. Today, with the effects of the climate change, the soil does not obey anymore this culture. Rains are not regular anymore, either there is excessively, or there is not enough« , explains Doctor Pierre Mavuemba, President of the notability of Muanda and researcher to the Higher institute of navigation and fishing, (ISNP).

The culture of niébé was considered other time as the principal one of the coast. Grace to her, the local population assured their well-being. Today, the farms of niébé given the place to the wild herbs and the oil drillings of PERENCO Rep, an oil company installed in the region since 2000.

The agroforestry as an alternative

To deal with this situation, several public and private initiatives were born in the region to help the local community adapt itself to the climate change by proposing them some alternatives, in particular agroforestry, which is a mode of exploitation of farmlands associating trees planting with food crops.

Pauline Mbenza, more than 50 years old, a woman farmer is the first one to develop an agroforestry project in this zone. Since then, several other projects were born.

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Pauline Mbenza, the projet initiator
Pauline Mbenza, the projet initiator

I was worried about the precariousness in which lived the people of Yema. Every day I was thinking myself about what I can do to solve the population’s needs. The idea to introduce a project of agroforestry came to me during a Round Table of the civil society, so I submitted my project to Perenco who agreed to finance it « , said this woman considered by the countrymen as their savior.” Today, Pauline is satisfied because she transformed the savanna into forests. Grace to this forest the villagers succeed in taking care, and that it is a miracle « , she specified.

On the plateau of Yema situated on the border with Angola, 40 agricultural households share 370 hectares of agroforestry plantations. On this sandy soil, acacia trees and other species of fruit trees are sharing the ground with cassava.
From this project, Edouard Ngonda, president of farmers in the Yema village, sees reborn the hope to live again happy in his ancestor’s soil. « At the village nobody was trusting in the success of this project, we thought that we are going to work for Perenco who offered to us free of charge seeds and other agricultural inputs. But that was not the case. For me, this is not anymore a project but rather a family company. Even if I shall die today, my children will keep living better grace to my plantations« , confirms him to us with smiling.

Édouard Ngonda, thé prisident of the farmers
Edouard Ngonda, the prisident of the farmers

With confidence, Edouard shows us his beehives, « Can you see, here there are bees which are soon going to produce the honey. I shall collect some cassava, avocado and honey. With the assistance of Mama Pauline, all this projects are possible« , according to him, the agroforestry project of Yema is the one which gives hope and provides rains these last two years.

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For the initiator of this project, the choice of the agroforestry is justified. “We chose the culture of acacia trees, fruit trees, niébés or cassava on the same ground, because the acacia fertilizes the ground so favoring a good growth of cassava bread. 7 years after, acacia trees will be cut down for the manufacturing of Makala which is a source of income of this population « . Grace to her advocacies, Pauline obtained from Perenco the installation of a flour-mill. With a monthly capacity of production estimated at 30 tons. Managed by the diocese of Boma, the flour-mill of Kinkazi gave some works to the sons and the girls of the region. « Approximately 20 women are engaged and paid to peel cassava. We have today a cassava spinneret which begins from the production via the transformation to market. It is something who brings a capital gain to our project« , she supported.

Pauline does not wait to stop there, she intends to fit out in the next days on this site of Kinkazi, a processing and conservation unit of fruit products. ”These various realizations urge me to forge ahead, my biggest dream it is to see changing the lifestyle of the communities that I support. I look for other partners able to help me to win this challenge. With my faith, my strength and my determination, I know that I would arrive there « .
Alfred Ntumba

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