|Herakles Farms, SGSOC|
Results of a study dubbed “farming systems and food security in the Nguti, Mundemba and Toko Subdivisions” were presented to media and civil society organizations at the Solomon Tandeng Muna Foundation in Yaounde on Friday April 19, 2013.
According to the study carried out by the Citizens Association for the Defense of Collective Interests, known in its French acronym as ACDIC, “community-based farming in South West Cameroon could increase food security while protecting the region’s rich forests”.
The study assesses how small-scale farming can offer a responsible development path, in contrast to a proposed industrial palm oil plantation in the region “which threatens local livelihoods and the environment”.
The presentation of the study followed a joint Greenpeace-ACDIC workshop which held in Kumba on April 16, 2013 to engage with communities and local authorities on food security, land rights and forest protection.
On September 17, 2009, SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon PLC (SGSOC) signed a contract with the Cameroonian Government to develop a large industrial palm oil plantation and refinery. SGSOC which is 100 per cent owned by the American Company, Herakles Farms obtained the rights to 73,086 Hectares of land in the Ndian and Kupe-Muanenguba Divisions of the South West Region of Cameroon through a 99-year land lease.
According to the study presented in Yaounde on Friday, ecological farming offers a positive and viable alternative to the 73,000 hectares palm oil project proposed by the US-based Corporation. The study further shows that the livelihoods of the more than 14,000 people currently living and farming in the project area could be jeopardized as the implementation of the project would lead to food insecurity.
The study also describes how cocoa yields in the South West, which provides 70 per cent of Cameroon’s cocoa production, can be improved through training, better organization and market access.
Irene Wabiwa, Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace Africa says “Herakles should respect the land rights of these communities, who have not been properly consulted on the plantation. Greenpeace supports thee call by Cameroonian NGOs for a moratorium on the allocation of new agro-industrial concessions, until clear land use planning, which takes into account existing land rights and adequate support for community-based farming is implemented”.
On his part, Martin Nzegang, Head of the Department of Research of ACDIC who led the team to the project area says government should invest and support small scale farming in the area as an alternative to Herakles Farms project.
By Ndi Eugene Ndi