ERuDeF: Facilitating Community Development in Lebialem through the Rain Forest Trust Project

As a result of the launch of the Rainforest Trust Mak-Betchou project in October 2016 and the Rainforest Trust project in Tofala in January 2017, a staff member from ERuDeF was sent to the Lebialem landscape to execute sensitization, identification and prioritization efforts of village-based conservation livelihood projects. These projects are to be developed through value-chain cassava production and palm oil. The aim was to aid improve the livelihoods of those living in the Lebialem landscape by changing their agricultural practices from subsistence to commercial agriculture. Over 25 villages in the Njoagwi-Fotabong III Esooh-Attah forest bloc and Tofala forest bloc in the Lebialem landscape have been sensitized. In addition priority projects identified are likely to be developed in those respective villages with technical assistance from ERuDeF.

This technical assistance mentioned will take the form of marketing research, provision of beehives to the various villages, training of villagers on the projects chosen, machinery for transformation of farm produce and micro credit provision through the Community Conservation Social Enterprise Development (CoCoSED) Initiative.

Each village was asked to identify five village-based conservation livelihoods projects in order of importance as well as which  could yield economic benefits and conserve biodiversity. This exercise was executed in all villages adjacent to Mak-Betchou and Tofala forest blocs in the Lebialem Landscape. Common projects identified were as follows; cassava production, bee keeping, piggery, palm oil production and maize farming.

These projects identified are quiet economically viable and if developed, will bring sustainable development to villages and improve livelihoods. Sustainable development will in effect reduce pressure on the forest from the local community; consequently conserving biodiversity.

The locals of these villages were incredibly excited for this opportunity ERuDeF has brought to their door steps and have thus promised full collaboration for effective and successful implementation of the CoCoSED Initiative. They also expressed their gratitude to ERuDeF  for igniting  hope within them for the  future development of their villages.

These projects will also aid in reducing pressure on the forest thus leading to biodiversity conservation.

Small-holder Farmer with Entrepreneurial Mindset Embraces Forest Garden Practices in Bakassa, Haut-Nkam Division

Nitcheu Jean Baptiste, a small holder farmer in Bakassa, passionate about agriculture, has achieved prosperity from his farm since he adopted Forest Garden practices.

Forest gardening is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production and agro forestry system on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables which have yields directly useful to humans.

TREES FOR THE FUTURE, in partnership with ERuDeF (Department of Agroforestry), have introduced the Forest Garden Model across all landscapes they work in, within Cameroon. The purpose is to plant trees that will help in restoration and environmental conservation, increase food crop profits and income levels of smallholder farmers. Bakassa is a community in one of this landscapes in which framers are practicing the Forest Garden system of farming.

Nitcheu Jean, one of these farmers implementing this practice, grows crops such as maize, beans, cocoyams, vegetables, tomatoes, spices, fruit trees (pear, passion fruit), acacia, leucaena  and neem, on his farm. All of which, he aligns in a pattern that suits the forest garden model. His farm is a perfect example of what this model resembles.

Being passionate about Agriculture with an entrepreneurial mindset, Jean Baptiste uses plastic cups to nurse tomato cuttings.

I use white plastic cups to multiply tomato cuttings. Usually, I cut the cuttings, dip them in water, put them in plastic cups and cover with white plastic. After two weeks, I transplant the tomato cuttings. I also perform the same practice for pepper but the difference is that I nurse the seeds directly into the plastic cup“, said Nitcheu Jean-Baptiste.

We’ve discovered that this method is economical as people demand tomatoes /pepper throughout the year”, He added.

The major challenges he encounters are those of pests (insects) that destroy crops and as well as the lack of consistency in water supply.

This practice serves as a source of income as he generates healthy profits from it. Mr. Jean Baptiste gains additional income from pears, bananas, passion fruit, spices, beans, maize, coco yams he has on his farm. Medicinal trees such as Acacia aid in improving soil fertility and retaining water content on his farm, thus increasing productivity.

New Strategy For the Department of Economic Development (DED) to Impact ERuDeF Landscape Restoration

The Department of Economic Development (DED) of ERuDeF has taken on a new role; serving as a think-tank department. This new approach seeks to study different projects per landscape and propose them to global economic investors.

The aim of the Economic and financial analysis of landscape restoration, is to improve the sustainable management of biodiversity for each of the eleven (11) landscapes in which ERuDeF operates. This restoration process is executed through human welfare development and reduction of human pressure on key biodiversity targets. It is a two year initiative per landscape with three main implementation phases:

The first phase includes the prioritization survey, to determine the economic and financial analysis of five (5) identified economic trees product; together with the cost of the establishment of community based foundations and microfinance in each landscape. The second phase of the project includes all steps relevant for the establishment of a community enterprise through the identification of public private partnership support. The third phase includes the project implementation phases in each landscape and the sustainability strategy.

The perfect implementation of this holistic approach is feasible through the Public Private Partnership Initiative (PPPI).  This initiative is set up to support conservation issues with focus on households within the community.

The public-private partnership design in this new initiative, seeks to economically and financially empower households in biodiversity hotspots in order to fight hunger, create wealth and jobs, eradicate poverty, sustainably manage the natural environment as well as reduce the gender gap. The partnership uses the circular and integrated business approach as a solution to create a resilient local economy.

Market Gardening: Target for Crime and Insecurity in Mt. Bamboutos Areas

Market gardening, that employs more than 80% of the rural population of  the Mt. Bamboutos area and contributes greatly to the country’s per capital income, has been causing social insecurity in the rural communities. These mal practices include nocturnal harvestingof crops on farms, stealing of farm inputs, burgling of storage houses for cash crops, and land conflicts. These practices stem from degraded agricultural soils, lack of wetland positions to cultivate during  dry seasons, livestock grazing, price hikes in farm inputs( such as fertilizers and manure) and poverty. These have led to a decline in production volumes (food insecurity), destruction of livestock, crops, houses, and loss of human lives in villages such as Nkongle, Pinyin, Mbelenka, Atsualah, Maghah,  Mbei, Njong, all at Mt. Bamboutos area.

Market gardening is a farming practice which entails the cultivation of highly perishable crops that are consumed and or transformed within a relatively short period of time. The farming system , which has been practiced since the 1980s and is now practiced in the Mt. Bambutous area, is responding to the decline in prices of coffee and the resulting economic crisis in Cameroon. It is practiced all year round mostly around the high lava plateau during the rainy season, as well as in wetlands, during the dry season. During the rainy season, market gardening is economical and less strenuous as it requires minimal inputs and labor. A major that attributes to less stress to market gardening during the wet season is the  availability of water for crops ; thus requiring farmers to not need watering cans, sprinklers, and water pumps or hired laborers. Due to this, most farmers participate in farming practices during this wet season. The dry season however, is characterized by intensive application of inputs such as pesticides, fertilizers, and the use of genetically modified seedlings, to increase production alongside widespread use of irrigation waters. Consequently, only rich farmers are able to participate in farming during the dry season while those who cannot afford to are excluded from production and become vulnerable to crime. The communities involved in this farming practice include: Pinyin, Njong, Baligham,  Mmuock Leteh,  Fosimondi, Bamumbu, Santa Mbei and Lebialem at the Mt. Bamboutos area. Some market garden crops which are grown include; carrots (Dancus carrota), irish potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), cabbage (Brassica Oleraceae), Leeks (Allium porrum) and celery (Apian graviolens).

The farming system is highly beneficial to the livelihoods of the communities involved. Research shows that market gardens employ 80% of the rural populations on a yearly basis. It is mostly practiced by youths between 18-35 years of age. The committed communities in the farming practice have won major prizes in potatoes (first), carrots (first), and cabbage (second) amongst others during the 2011 edition of the National Agro-Pastoral shows in Cameroon. Production is executed in large quantities and sold all over the country, with some exported to many other countries in Africa. Examples of the latter are Irish potatoes which are exported to Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana.

Market gardening, being the most surviving farming practice in the area, has recently been regarded as a target for crime and insecurity of the 30000 people living in the area. This correlation is due to the high population density and the ongoing pressure on land. For instance, there are about 325 persons per km² in Mmuock Leteh, 295 persons per km² in Fosimondi, 385 persons per km² in Pinyin, and 305 persons per km² in Santa which have aggravated tension over land and opened confrontation between villages. It is important to note that insecurity in these areas is mostly caused by unemployed youths who act out their frustration, stemming from the economic situation of the country (unemployment rate of 9.3 per cent, underemployment rate 68.8 per cent) by participating in theft and the fight for farm lands. Thus, the high insecurity rate at Mt. Bamboutos is attributed to poverty.

Introducing Agro-forestry techniques will promote food security and employment, thereby economically sustaining at least 75% of market gardeners at the Mt. Bamboutos area.

Indiscriminate Fishing, a Major Income Generating Activity within the Mangroves of Bakassi Peninsula

Cameron`s mangroves forest covers approximately 30% of Cameroon`s coastline. The Rio Del Rey Estuary is a trans boundary site between Cameroon and Nigeria and hosts approximately half of Cameroon’s mangroves. The trans boundary site contains geographical coordinates of 4.8° N+ and 8.28° E+ and a mangrove surface area of 1500km2. Rio del Rey has been described as an estuary in which the rivers ,Ndian and Massake, flow out. They are the most intact and best conserved mangrove forest in the African cost (FAO. 2011).

The mangroves Rio Del Rey are a uniquely important habitat for endemic and threatened species such as the Giant frog, Conraua goliath, the West African manatee (Trichechussenegalensis) and the Dwarf crocodile (Osteolaemustetraspis). It also offers a staging area for the migratory Lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) and for the Rachel’s Malimbe (Malimbicusracheliae). The indigenous mangrove species are (Avicenniagerminans, Conocarpus erectus, Rhizophoraharrisonii, Rhizophora mangle and the Rhizophoraracemosa). These mangroves lie in a presently remote and undeveloped area of  Cameroon’s coast.

Over 24,000 active fishermen are engaged directly in fishing in the coastal area of Cameroon.  The demand for fish is increasing as a result of rapid population growth and increase in middle class household income, which drives the global expansion of trade in fisheries and fishery products. At the same time, fisheries encounter complex challenges from habitat degradation, overfishing, overcapacity, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and climate change. In addition, governance failures in fisheries’ management have contributed to exacerbating the unsustainable levels of exploitation of fishery resources and destruction of marine ecosystems and fishery habitats in the Bakassi area Cameroon.

This area lacks education and sensitization of local communities on sustainable fishing methods, awareness on the effects of using unsustainable fishing methods, and a reference document to individuals or cooperate bodies involved in fishing in the Bakassi area. There are inadequate institutional frameworks and fishery regulations, sustainable fishing methods and conservation of fishery resources, fishing techniques and fish processing, fishing operations and fishing technology in Bakassi.

As a result of the above setbacks, ERuDeF with the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implementation by United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has implemented the ‘Participative Integrated Ecosystem Service Management Plan for Bakassi Post Conflict Ecosystem’ (PINESMAP- BPCE). The project highlights recommendations to curb practices such as avoidance of destructive fishing practices (bottom trawling, cyanide, dynamite and juvenile fishing) that destroy marine organisms and their habitats and undermine human well-being in Cameroon. The Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development (MINEDEP) has acted as a collaborator between ERuDEF, GEF, UNEP and other implementing NGOs, to aid in the recommendation on the marine landscape.

training on best practices for sustainable fishing methods, farming, waste a
management and mangrove protection, were performed in a capacity building
workshop in Bakassi named. The workshop was titled “Strengthening
Capacity of Local Communities for adopting best practices in sustainable use of
Natural resources.”

Livelihood Development Needs of Nkongho-Mbo Villages Assessed

Cassava production, bee keeping, piggery, palm oil production and Maize farming have been identified as key livelihood development needs of villages within the Nkongho-Mbo area of the proposed Bangwa-Mbo Wildlife Sanctuary.These needs were identified during a trip to the Nkongho-Mbo area recently by staff of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) to carry out … Read more

Bimbia Bonadikombo and Etinde Community Forests Develop Business Plans for NTFPs

The Bimbia Bonadikombo and Etinde community forests have each produced a business plan for the production and sales of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) like  Bush mango,  bush Pepper ,   and Ngongo leave respectively in large scale. The business models were developed recently as a prerequisite to obtain funding for the Dryad project. While developing … Read more

Trees for the Future, ERuDeF Institute New Models for Farmers & Community Development

The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), in collaboration with its US-based partner, Trees for the Future, have instituted new models for farmers and community development. These models include to the Access and Benefit sharing initiative (dealing with the commercialization of genetic resources), forest gardening, and trees planting, transformation and marketing. These models were introduced, … Read more

Mbu Thomas Testifies of the Goodness of Agroforestry System

My name is Mbu Thomas. I come from Balafotio in Bamboutos Division of West Cameroon. I joined this agroforestry programme in 2014, when the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) enlightened and trained us on some agroforestry techniques. This motivated me to develop a Forest Garden in my 0.5ha farm land.Today, the soil fertility here … Read more

Nkongho-Mbeng & Alou-Tofala Farmers Reap from Biodiversity Community Trust

Members of Nkongho-Mbeng Farmers and Alou-Tofala Farmers cooperatives have begun benefiting from the services of the Biodiversity Community Trust (BCT). Biodiversity Community Trust is a micro-finance scheme of the Environment and Rural Development Foundation aimed at reconciling poverty with biodiversity conservation. This scheme that has been operating since 2010, was introduced to communities adjacent to … Read more