On the Ground: cocoa farming in Cameroon

Oct 23, 2016

Continuing our On the Ground series, we head to south west Cameroon where we hear from Samuel Mwene, the President of BIDA, who work to reduce the exploitation of local farmers when selling cocoa.

“Bajoh Indigenous Development Association (BIDA) is a community based NGO created by indigenous peoples to fight against the exploitation of their resources and to promote the culture and tradition of Bajoh indigenous people in South West Cameroon. The organisation is therefore established to promote education of indigenous farmers involved in cocoa production, training them on the production processes as well as enable them acquire reading and calculation skills to avoid been cheated by unscrupulous licensed buyers. I recently spoke to some of the farmers we have supported in order to give you an idea of the kind of impact we’re having:”

Beatrice

beatrice

I am married with 5 children, with only one of them attending school. My husband and I are farmers.

Since I became a member of the Eboko Bajoh cooperative society and holds the post of treasurer in the cooperative’s management committee, I had the opportunity to attend the training on cooperative leaders and I can now boast of having acquired some basic financial management skills. I can carry out banking transactions without help, and even assist in paying for farmers produce. The project has sharpened my counting and calculation skills.

As a woman, I have had the privilege to learn a lot from this project so far. Before i did not know what a cooperative society meant but this project has opened my eyes as an indigenous woman. I now know how to keep small financial records; I can calculate my money per kilogram of cocoa sold. I have learnt how to make a budget and expenditure. Licensed buyers use to cheat me at first but I swear they cannot cheat me again with their bad scales. With the training received, I can read the scale very well now something I could not do in the past. I thank God for this project. Long live indigenous women, long live Bajoh Indigenous Development Association.

This project has made a great difference in my life because I have within the course of the project acquired numerical skills, planning skills, budgeting skills, which I will use in my kitchen management and also pass on to my children. I am proud of myself now in this community.

I know that I would be able to put my acquired skills to the service of the cooperative and earn some money to help me support my husband in sending our children to secondary schools, which will transform their lives.

Chief Enone Donatus Metuge

chief-enoneI am married with 6 children. I have struggled to send 3 of my children to school with little means I have from an inherited old cocoa farm.

I am the president of Eboko Bajoh Simplified Cooperative Society. I identified the need for the creation of this farmer’s organisation. I have taken part in all project activities from the planning meeting to the last activity organised by Bajoh Indigenous Development Association (BIDA). I have learnt so many things since this project started. In fact, I can now make a good budget, I now know the processes or steps involved in cocoa marketing. I am proud to say that I am well equipped to manage a cooperative society. This cooperative has just come to lift me and my members out of poverty.

The difference this project is making in my life at this old age is enormous. I have been able to learn new skills thanks to this project. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the implementation of this very important project in my community.

I now have adequate reading and calculation skills received from the training on scale reading and money calculation per kilogramme of cocoa sold. I will not be exploited again by licensed buying agents I thank Bajoh Indigenous Development Association for this project. Since the project plans to organise more training workshops, I am optimistic that more skills will be gained before the project rounds up.

“BIDA remains committed to helping many more farmers like Beatrice and Chief Enone and we also intend to set up a farmers’ vocational field schools to train young professional farmers as well as cooperative leaders, too. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the important work we do in protecting the rights and livelihoods of farmers in Cameroon.”