News / Africa

Project Aims to Boost Cameroon’s Food Production

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid