An elaborate Business Plan for the management of three community forests in the Southwest Region has been developed. The plan was established recently in a series of meetings, working sessions, and group discussion organised in the three selected communities adjacent to the forest. The communities include Woteva, Tinto, and Akwen/Agborkem.
The Business Plan embodies all details of an enterprise, beginning from all investments and anticipated revenue. It is coming on the heels of the DRYAD Project that seeks to reduce deforestation, improve environment, and improve social welfare of participating communities, and to create economic resilience. The project also promotes the engagement of local communities in sustainable management of natural resources through Community Forestry.
According to the Coordinator of the project, Sheron Endah, the model will serve as a guide or reference to the management of the earmarked Community Forests.
“All decisions stated in the Business Plan will be followed strictly. That implies, the communities will be directly implicated in the management of their forests, reaping all socioeconomic benefits from there,” She added.
In the Woteva Community Forest, the indigenes choose to develop Beekeeping and Eco-Tourism enterprises. Located on the slope of Mt Cameroon, beekeeping was suitable, giving its rich flora potentials that attract bees into the forest. It also has interesting touristic sites, which are lucrative for Eco-Tourism.
The Chief, HRH Bernard Wolote, who doubles as the Forest Management Officer, expressed gratitude for having his community selected among those benefitting. He prayed and hoped the enterprises be financed so the profits accrued from the community forest are used to bring water resources and other developments to the community.
“I am very convinced that if this project sees the light of day, many of my youths who have all moved to nearby towns and cities in search of jobs and water will be attracted back to the village,” Chief Wolote added.
In the Tinto Community Forest, the villagers decided to take on Bush Mango(Irvingia gabononsis) and Njansang (Ricinodendron heudelotti) enterprise. Uncracked harvested Njansang is literally wasting in the community, as a cracking machine is unavailable. Tinto villagers believe a Njansang cracking machine, could be a profitable business venture. In that light, a systematic business plan on the selected enterprises was developed. Bush Mango has a ready market and is available in their forest.
In a speech in one of the meetings, the pioneer Forest Management Officer, Mr Tiku Abraham Ashu of the Tinto Community Forest, expressed sincere appreciation having his village selected among others to benefit from the project. He went further to call on all present to take activities linked to the project very seriously as the project will develop households as well as the community.
“This community will have a breakthrough on social, economic and environment challenges if this project is taken seriously,” he said.
In the Akwen/Agborkem Community Forest, villagers choose to develop enterprises on Timber and Bush Mango. This community has a ready market on both products and the resources are abundant in their Community Forest. They intimated that with the necessary finances available, they will transform their small scale trading into a vast trading enterprise maximizing profit to 100%. They indicated that in three years, they will attain the said objective.
The President of the Akwen/Agborkem Community Forest, Mr Mbu Asanga Jackson, like others, lauded the initiative to include their community forest into the project. He promised on behalf of his community, to be committed in the project and provide the necessary results.
“The knowledge I have got from developing this business plan will help me personally even in my small business. I should also point out that the youth majority in our community is great strength for sustainable Enterprises. They will greatly be involved in the project realisation,” Mr Mbu added.
The project coordinator, Sheron Endah, encouraged the communities to take the exercise seriously. She indicated that the project allows the Community members to manage socioeconomic affairs themselves.
The Dryad project seeks to reduce deforestation, improve environment, and improve social welfare of participating communities and also to create economic resilience. It seeks to promote the engagement of local communities in sustainable management of natural resources through Community Forestry. Twelve Community Forests were initially selected for the first phase of the Dryad project. 6 teaser reports were submitted to the partners and 3 selected for the second phase.
The developed Business Plan was submitted to the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) alongside financial model input spreadsheet. The enterprises await approval and financial support. Once the model is approved, the various enterprises selected by the communities will be financed.
The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) in collaboration with the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) are executing the project expected to run for five years.
By Henrietta Kilang