Yaounde, 19 April 2013 – Community-based farming in South West Cameroon could increase food security while protecting the region’s rich forests, according to a report released today by ACDIC (Association Citoyenne pour la Defense des Interêts Collectifs), commissioned by Greenpeace Africa. Agriculture systems and food security in Toko, Mundemba, and Nguti, in South-West Cameroon, assess how small-scale farming can offer a responsible development path, in contrast to a proposed industrial palm oil plantation in the region, which threatens local livelihoods and the environment.
This report follows a joint Greenpeace-ACDIC workshop which was held in the town of Kumba on April 16, to engage with communities and local authorities on food security, land rights and forest protection. The workshop, which was attended by approximately 90 people, identified technical support for farmers, access to land and producing food locally for local consumption as some of the key factors in achieving food security and protection of biodiversity.
“All too often, we are told that there is only one way for Cameroon to develop: to sign over land to large-scale industry projects,” says Irene Wabiwa, Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace Africa. “This report is important because it provides guidance towards a genuine alternative, which meets economic, social and environmental objectives in the best interests of the Cameroonian people.”
The report describes how cacao yields in the South West, which provides 70% of Cameroon’s cacao production, can be improved through training, better organization and market access. Cacao is usually grown in the shade of trees which supply the farmers with additional products like fruit and vegetables, while maintaining the forest canopy.
Ecological farming offers a positive and viable alternative to the 73,000 hectare palm oil project proposed by US-based corporation Herakles Farms, which would jeopardize the livelihoods of more than 14,000 people who currently live and farm in the project area. These communities are dependent on the forests for food, building materials and medicine. Fearful of losing their lands and livelihoods, some local people have protested against the project, and have faced intimidation and arrest as a result.
These fears are based on the impact of previous agro-industrial development by CDC, Palmol, Delmonte and CTE, which resulted in large amounts of land coming under the control of corporations, and restrictions on community access to infrastructure. This has driven up local food prices, by reducing the amount of farming land available, and increased the cost of housing, transportation and other basic commodities as labourers are brought into the area to work.
Greenpeace is campaigning for the palm oil industry and investors to implement a transparent ‘Zero Deforestation Policy’, which respects the rights and livelihoods of local communities and ensures the protection of natural forest.
“Herakles should respect the land rights of these communities, who have not been properly consulted on the plantation,” says Irene Wabiwa, Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace Africa. “Greenpeace supports the call by Cameroonian NGOs for a moratorium on the allocation of new agro-industrial concessions, until clear land use planning, which takes into account existing land rights and adequate support for community-based farming, is implemented.”
Notes to the Editor
- Greenpeace Africa’s Zero Deforestation policy is no direct human-induced conversion of forest to non-forests. This does not apply to small-scale low intensity subsistence conversion.
- Ecological Farming ensures healthy farming and healthy food for today and tomorrow, by protecting soil, water and climate, promotes biodiversity, and does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs or genetic engineering.
Alexa Phillips, Forests Communications Coordinator, Greenpeace Africa:
Irene Wabiwa, Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Africa:
Martin Nzegang, Head of Research, ACDIC: + 237 77 89 24 60, firstname.lastname@example.org
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