I grew up 7 degrees north of the equator in a rural and remote village in the Republic of Cameroon. As a young boy, it was here, toiling in the groundnut fields under the equatorial sun and savoring mangoes in the shade during the harvest season, that I developed a passion for tropical agriculture. I have lived and worked alongside farmers who make less than a dollar a day, who have experienced the crushing weight of a fruitless harvest or the loss of an entire crop. As an unbanked rural farmer, you run out of options. Surrounded by extreme poverty, preventable nutritional diseases, and subsistence farming, I began to see agricultural development as a field in which I could have a significant localized impact and that I would enjoy working in.
My agricultural experiences from my youth directly impacted my academic trajectory. I finished undergrad with a B.S. in Agriculture and Natural Resources and a B.A. in French from Berea college while also completing internships and field experiences in Uganda, Cameroon, Guinea, and Trinidad and Tobago. From there, the Lord flung wide the gates towards UC Davis where I completed a M.S. in International Agricultural Development with research based on moringa production in Kenya.
I arrived at ECHO not to a hearty, celebratory welcome but to friendly “Hellos from a social distance and the solitude of a 2-week precautionary quarantine. During this time, I wrote, prayed, read, Zoomed, live-streamed, and read some more. I finished 4 books and SO many agricultural articles. Those two weeks were restorative and clarifying for me, providing a space and time to process the transition and prayerfully prepare for the future.
I’ve been wanting to come to ECHO for 7 years and this internship has been more than I was even hoping for. Each day is a bit different and that keeps me hungry for more. I spent Earth Day learning how to safely harvest and steward wood resources. A couple months ago, my cows broke out of their pasture 10 times in a 48-hr period requiring that I stop everything and chase them around the farm.
Recently, I harvested a field of peanuts that I planted, consumed an entire crate of avocados, read books, built some trellises, performed pregnancy diagnoses on some cows, assumed responsibility for watering the greenhouse and hoophouse, designed a low-input cow chute, installed a fertigation system (irrigation that can be supplemented with synthetic or bio-fertilizer), led five tours of our farm, splashed in flooded pastures, and savored the sweetness of the hardto-describe jaboticaba, lemon-drop mangosteen, strawberry tree, and miracle fruits.
As I continue in the Internship and consider next steps, I’m excited to walk in obedience as the Lord leads.