12 December 2012

Cameroon: National sustainable strategy for oil palm development underway

A two-day workshop to brainstorm on the challenges held in Yaounde on Tuesday 11th december.

The growth of the oil palm sector characterised by the increase in the demand for land concessions for oil palm plantations by both local and foreign investors poses a need to draw up and implement a national sustainable strategy plan for the sector. It is for this reason that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER) in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) brought together some 33 participants drawn from both public and private institutions to brainstorm on the challenges to be considered while drawing up the national plan to make sure that it effectively responds to the environmental and socio-economic requirements of communities.

Representing MINADER boss, the Technical Adviser No. 2, Andrée Caroline Ekotto disclosed that there is a high demand for land by foreign investors to create oil palm plantations to the detriment of young qualified Cameroonians who need land for agricultural enterprise. She added that instead of allocating giant pieces of land to them, who at the end of the day will carry out processing in their countries leaving Cameroon with little or nothing, just parcels of land should be given them and allow the huge potions for young Cameroonians. WWF's Director of Conservation, Hanson Njiforti stressed that if environmental and social impact are considered, the future development of oil palm will be sustainable.

Dominic Alekeh Ngwesse, the president of the South West civil society organisation network lamented that the assessment of the community livelihood is not done and even when carried out, the investors impose the livelihood alternatives on the community rather than allowing the communities to say what they want. The critical thinker said that the government should put in place a national land-use planning which indicates the amount of land left for both the government and the communities. He went ahead to suggest that if local councils are given land concessions, they will contribute tremendously to nation building. On his part, Nasako Besingi, an oil palm farmer believes that if small holder farmers are guided technically, learn better farming methods, and assisted financially, production will ameliorate and the 100,000 demand/supply deficit will be bridged. The draft strategy which will be ready in June 2013 will be handed to MINADER for validation and implementation.

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