News / Africa

Project Aims to Boost Cameroon’s Food Production

Multimedia

Audio

Cameroon is generally considered a potential breadbasket in Central Africa.  But farmers are cultivating less than 20 percent of the country’s arable land and are complaining of the low market prices for their produce.

In an ongoing effort to improve the value of food crops, the government is introducing a project to help farmers sell their produce on national and sub-regional markets.

The initiative, which began in April, is dubbed the Agricultural Competitiveness Improvement Project.  Better known by its French acronym, PACA, the program is being launched in seven of the country’s 10 administrative regions.

PACA is jointly financed by the government of Cameroon and a $ US 82-million loan from the World Bank’s International Development Association.

It’s one of several food security measures conceived by the government following hunger-related protests in February 2008.  Among others, it aims to increase the market price of crops by improving productivity, quality and marketing. Its initiators say it should also help the competitiveness of farmers’ cooperatives that produce rice, maize, plantains, palm oil, pork and poultry with high potential for local and regional markets.

The project coordinator in Douala, Jean Blaise Bama, says, “The project will have a [big] impact because we’re going to ameliorate the revenue of farmers by giving them easy access to the market.  We’re also going to [work on improving yields]. We will finance some micro-projects.”

Over the next six years, PACA will work to establish trading partnerships between farmers’ groups and buyers within and outside the country, the construction of irrigation systems in arid areas and the reform of complicated and inefficient regulations.  Officials say rural people will indirectly benefit from the improvement of usually horrendous farm-to-market roads.

Critics warn that the venture, laudable as it may initially appear, could be corrupted. Two years ago, officials with the Ministry of Agriculture and Development set up phantom farmers’ groups to divert money from a package of subsidies for maize.

The Citizens Association for the Defense of Collective Interests, ACDIC, blew the lid on the scandal two years ago.  A member of the group, Jean Christian Akam, says the complexity of the PACA initiative is setting off alarm among some observers:

“We have experience with such projects, and very often these are projects that do not have direct impact neither in terms of productivity nor in terms of competitiveness.  So we are just afraid.  If you look at this project, you are going to notice clearly that there are a lot of seminars.  There is nothing concrete. We have noticed a lot of bureaucracy.”

But project coordinators disagree. They say the World Bank has provided mechanisms to monitor corruption at every level of the project.  Toussi, the PACA national coordinator, says corruption is being dealt with:

“In the formulation of this project, we put a big emphasis on the problem of corruption.  We will not finance a group supported by only one individual.  And more, we’re not financing at the same time all the amount we have decided. We’re financing by steps to ensure that after the evaluation – if it’s positive, we continue.  If it’s not positive, we stop and the beneficiary will have to pay back the money.”

In the wake of the 2008 protests over soaring food prices, the government announced a three-year plan to double food production.  The US $1.7million program included the creation of a farmers’ bank to grant low-interest loans, subsidies for fertilizer and modern equipment, free seeds, training and the allocation of farmland to the most productive farmers.

Now, two years later, farmers -- who make up 70 percent of Cameroon’s population -- say the plan is sluggish.

But Ministry of Agriculture officials are optimistic.  They say PACA and other initiatives will begin paying off over the next few years.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid