Farmer Tantoh, founder of SYFA
Born in 1978, in a village called Nkambe (Donga-Mantung, Northwest Region, Cameroon), Farmer Tantoh was interested in issues concerning the environment ever since his childhood. It was mainly his father who supported him in pursuing those interests. He died however, when Farmer Tantoh was still young. In his adolescent years Farmer Tantoh carried out a number of projects completely on his own.
While his peers tried to ridicule his pursuits by calling him Farmer, children became interested in what he was doing. In 2002 Farmer Tantoh received a scholarship from Far and Wide Scotland to study tropical agriculture and rural development at the Regional College of Agriculture in Bambili (Mezam Department, Northwest Region, Cameroon). His studies were abruptly interrupted when he got Typhoid fever as a result of drinking unclean water. What followed were months of high fever, intense cramps and severe weakness. Because of this he then specialised in spring water catchment protection and agroforestry. Farmer Tantoh graduated as Senior Agricultural Technician (with Higher National Diploma) in 2004. Ever-since, he is proud to be called Farmer.
Equipped with sophisticated knowledge and high enthusiasm – but without any funding – Farmer Tantoh continued to expand his projects, which eventually lead him to the foundation of the SYFA in 2005. Because of his work with SYFA in the local community (see What we do) Farmer Tantoh was invited to study watersheds by the Tahoe-Baikal Institute in 2007. From his training abroad, Farmer Tantoh brought back important knowledge about watershed management and continued environmental projects with SYFA in the local community (see What we do).
In 2010 Farmer Tantoh received a scholarship from the United States Department of State, which led to his graduation form the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College with a certificate on sustainable organic farming practices and horticulture in 2011. In the same year Farmer Tantoh also received the African Achievers Award (selected as best grassroots environmentalist in Africa) and the International Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice And Sustainable Development (selected as gold winner of Africa). In 2012 Farmer Tantoh was furthermore elected as Ashoka fellow.
In 2015 Farmer Tantoh was appointed as ambassador for Forest Nation and in 2016 he was named Best Environmentalist of the Year by World Echoes as well as awarded by the Marie-Claire Nabila Kuja Foundation.
Looking back at all his achievements so far Farmer Tantoh reminds us that…
“… it doesn’t matter where you come from – you are never too small or insignificant to contribute to the long term sustainability of our planet. By doing simple things to the best of your ability, you are improving our world.”
Network of support
In 2010 SYFA-USA was created, the US branch of SYFA, to allow for fund raising and tax-exempt donations inside the United States. It was founded by Gene Barry, who worked voluntarily in Nkambe on Community Development projects from 1963 to 1965. Now a professor emeritus, he returned to Nkambe in 2010, met Farmer Tantoh and has since been actively involved in planning and fund raising for our projects. The board of SYFA-USA consists of:
- Gene Barry (Interim-President and Treasurer),
- Farmer Tantoh (Vice President),
- Penny Mueller (Director of Volunteer Membership) who holds a degree in Horticulture and Landscaping, operates an organic farm and is intimately involved in creating a local organic farmers’ cooperative, and
- Jane E. Seusy (Esquire, Legal Counsel) who holds a degree in Political Science and Business Administration, is an active advisor and advocate of SYFA and also works with various other nonprofit organizations.
Furthermore SYFA is supported by an international network of people (volunteers, fund raisers, donors, …) and organisations:
Adrienne Langlois, Agatha Nye, Albert Onega, Anne Desmoucelles, Aparengeng Augustine, Bawe Bernard, Beri Mercy, Beth Huston, Botan Adel, Botan Joseph, Botan Martin, the Bower family, Charlotte Colomg, Chifu Dieudonne, Christophe Heyman, David Elbaum, Dr. Roger Tatoud, Francis Tessier, Guylaine Dube, Jeanette Tabah, John Gurr, Jomo Kevin, the Karlinger family, Kawas Austin Yetoh, Kum Festus, Kunde Kevin, Masumi Hayashi-Smith, Michael Levy, Mimba Betrand, Mimba Elvis, Molyne Nye, Muring Nadesh, Nchiah Calaris, Nfor Afanyu, Nfor Emmanuel, Nfor Ivo, Nfor Pascaline, Njingti Denis Joney, Ntala Cynthia, Ntani Kevin, Olivier Jegou, Rebecca Brier-Rosenfield, Remi Rida, Salack Emmanuel, Sheila Blethyn, Shey Tierry, Shey Walters, Yi Zhang.
- Academy for the Environment (United States)
- ARGE Solar (Austria)
- Far and Wide (United Kingdom)
- First Baptist Church (United States)
- Garden Organic (United Kingdom)
- Integrated School For the Blind (Cameroon)
- Know Your Neighbour (Cameroon)
- Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church (United States)
- Mountain Forum
- Prince of Wales
- SNEC Women’s Group (Cameroon)
- Student Association for International Water Issues (United States)
- Tahoe-Baikal Institute
- White Feather Foundation (United Kingdom)
- World Agroforestry Centre
- WWOOF (United Kingdom)