Following the Access and Benefit Sharing ABS principle recently instituted in Cameroon, the government, through the Ministry of the Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development (MINEPDED), has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a French based cosmetic enterprise V. MANE Fils, represented by the Director General, Michel Mane. The MOU recognizes and lays terms and conditions for a win-win partnership in the exploitation of Echinops giganteus, an aromatic plant found in Magha- Bamumbu, Southwest Region of Cameroon.
Prior to the signing ceremony, Mr. Mane, accompanied by Eric Belvaux, Program Coordinator with French Charity Man and Nature and a delegation from ERuDeF held deliberations with personnel of MINIPDED, experts of the ABS process, local community representatives amongst others. During these deliberations, Mane drilled those present on what his organization really does and how he could work with Cameroon for a win-win partnership. Mane said the MOU will move the Echinops project to the commercialization phase. He said his engagement in the project and with Cameroon is long- term and promised to be back in Cameroon soon, given the warm welcome he received from ERuDeF, Fons and local communities like Bamumbu and Magha, since his arrival in the country. The signing of the MoU comes a day after a working visit by Mr. Mane and his team to Magha.
On his part, the Minister of Environment, Helle Pierre said that the MOU indicates that the Cameroon government recognizes that the French enterprise Mane et Fils is exploiting the plant Echinops giganteus, within the framework of the ABS process. The signing exercise was done with solemnity and serenity. This was done in the presence of MINEPDED officials, ERuDeF staff, ABS experts, the Mayor of Wabane, the chief of Bamumbu amongst others.
Apart from the signing of the MOU, the French duo and ERuDeF team paid a series of working visits to the University of Yaoundé I (Department of Chemistry Laboratory and ENS Bio-chemical laboratory) and IRAD (National Herbarium), meeting with some scientists. During these meetings, participants discussed how Cameroonian universities and Research Institutes could be instrumental in the identification of plants with aromatic and pharmaceutical smell and taste. The scientists looked forward to further cooperation in the research on aromatic and essential oils.
The French Corporate Partner disclosed that international laws have changed in favor of Cameroon. With the introduction of the ABS and FPIC processes, Cameroonians can benefit from the exploitation of their natural resources and ecosystems. The French men acknowledged that research is growing in Cameroon and recommended that it be geared towards development and the market, so that the ecosystem will also gain from the valorization of a plant.
By Immaculate Mkong