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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs