Women building resilient Non Timber Forest Product Value Chain in Southeast Cameroon
This quest has contributed to the birth of three Non timber forest products (NTFP) cooperatives in both landscapes, namely Centre Vert de Lomié (CVL), Or Vert de Mambele (OVM), and Or Nature De Yokadouma (ONY). Early in 2020, the cooperatives were at the peak of difficulties due to limited revenue generated from the sales of NTFPs. Fortunately, these challenges begun receiving more attention when WWF Cameroon signed a partnership agreement with AAFEBEN for the implementation of the Leading the Change (LtC) project. During the implementation of the project activities, AAFEBEN realized that the three cooperatives, CVL, OVM, and ONY, faced severe difficulties partly because they did not have the required technical and institutional capacity to manage the affairs of the cooperatives.
They also lacked the knowhow to process NTFPs into other finished products, despite the support of two processing units donated to them by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) in 2019. The processing units were set up in Yokadouma and Lomié for the benefit of all three cooperatives. With financial and technical support from WWF Cameroon, through the LtC project, a series of workshops were organized by AAFEBEN to strengthen the capacity of these cooperatives, especially in the sustainable harvesting and commercialization of NTFPs and also on how to effectively process and transform them into different products in order to add value to their business.
AKONGONGOL Epse MIKAM MIRANDA, the Director of AAFEBEN reiterated that, “In addition to the training, AAFEBEN provided them with some institutional support to acquire basic equipment that facilitated the process of transforming NTFPs into other products. This enabled the cooperatives to acquire packaging and brand materials, relevant equipment and a power generator. Today, the cooperatives are able to process and transform different NTFPs into various finished products. We are proud to see them transforming Moabi (Baillonella toxisperma) into oil. Bush mango (Irvingia gabonensis) into butter, paste and powder, and Djansang (Ricinodendron heudelotii) into oil and powder. And deriving considerable benefits”
This has added more economic and financial value to the different NTFP species. For instance, prior to engaging in NTFP transformation, 96kg of un-transformed bush mango was bought by the cooperatives at 72,000 XAF and sold at 96,000 XAF, with a benefit of 24,000 XAF. When they began with NTFP transformation, the same quantity of bush mango bought at 72,000 XAF and processed into oil, produces a minimum of 45 liters of oil, and sold at 5,000 XAF per litre. This generates a total of 225,000 XAF, with 153,000 XAF as benefit, higher than 24,000 XAF benefit when sold unprocessed. AAFEBEN’s technical support through the LtC project has also enabled the cooperatives to promote consumer protection ideals and good quality control of their products. They ensure that the products are processed, bottled and sealed in good hygienic conditions and attractively labelled and displayed in Bertoua, the largest city in the East Region of Cameroon. Though these products are known to contain very high medicinal, nutritive, and a fairly high economic value, they are still not well-known at the local level and considerably, at national level.
In a bid to increase the cooperatives product diversity, market-base, and profitability, AAFEBEN began identifying other ways that these cooperatives can start transforming the NTFPs into other finished products apart from the oil, butter, and paste. To achieve this, AAFEBEN selected and sensitized 30 women, comprising members and non-members of the cooperatives, who are active in the NTFP transformation initiative, on the importance of transforming NTFPs into different forms of cosmetic-related products. After the training, six of the 30 women, expressed the desire to begin the transformation of NTFPs into cosmetics.