Innovations on your doorstep
Title: Green Innovation Centres for the Agriculture and Food Sector
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministère d’Economie, du Plan et d’Administration Territoriale (MINEPAT)
Overall term: 2014 to 2017
Agriculture in Cameroon is dominated by smallholders. Over 90 per cent of farms are four hectares or less in size, yet they account for nearly a third of gross domestic product. Most farmers cultivate their land to fulfil their own needs. Any remaining surpluses are generally too small to provide enough food for the surrounding region.
The agriculture and food sector is the main driver of Cameroon’s economic growth in rural areas. National and international demand for crop and livestock products is high, so there is a favourable environment for increasing productivity. Strong agri-environmental potential and continued widespread availability of farmland in the region means it is possible to cultivate a wide variety of agricultural produce.
In 2014, Cameroon’s gross domestic product increased by 5.9 per cent, with agriculture and livestock farming accounting for much of this growth. Over 60 per cent of the active population works in the rural sector, and yet the rate of poverty in rural areas is significantly higher than in towns and cities (56.8 per cent compared with 8.9 per cent).
There is scope to expand agricultural production and the processing and marketing of agricultural produce, but this potential for growth remains largely untapped. Small-scale farming enterprises and actors in the agriculture and food sector do not have sufficient access to innovations that could allow them to increase productivity and incomes, and ensure a healthy diet.
Innovations in selected value chains in the agriculture and food sector have increased the incomes of small-scale farming enterprises, boosted employment and improved regional food supply.
‘One World, No Hunger’ is a special initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It aims to make a significant contribution towards reducing poverty and hunger. The programme for Green Innovation Centres for the agriculture and food sector is running in 13 countries, including Cameroon.
Green Innovation Centres promote value chains in potato and cocoa production and poultry farming through a number of different measures:
- Supporting small-scale farmers and small and medium-sized enterprises. Participants in the programme are given access to research findings and existing innovations that they can then pilot. The Innovation Centres support agricultural training, promote entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviour, and assist in the organisation of farmers’ groups. Examples of activities include improving teaching materials, offering practical courses for demonstration purposes, introducing new techniques and providing equipment for cooperatives and farmers’ groups (physical innovation centres).
- Supporting knowledge transfer. The programme provides training for advisers, farmers’ organisations and trainers themselves so that innovations can be disseminated more rapidly. Knowledge transfer partners include local civil society, public bodies and farmers’ organisations.
- Professionalising farmers’ organisations. This will strengthen the role of producers in the value chains.
- Setting up and consolidating development partnerships with businesses. Private sector actors in Germany and Cameroon can become involved in the programme through innovation partnerships.
- Cooperating closely with public and civil society actors. In order to mainstream its results at institutional level, the programme is cooperating with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER) and the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries (MINEPIA). Within civil society, local partners of Bread for the World and other local non-governmental organisations are supporting the programme in the delivery of training and public relations activities.
In the three value chains, programme activities are aiming to achieve:
- an average increase in income of 25 per cent for 30,000 smallholders
- at least 1,800 new jobs
- an average increase in land productivity of 25 per cent
- training opportunities for over 40,000 people
Potatoes. Working with the National Potato Programme, GIZ has tested local irrigation systems to enable farmers to grow potatoes more cheaply, even during the dry season. The selected irrigation systems were upgraded, and by the end of 2016 had been launched in 12 cooperatives in preparation for rolling them as simple and cost-effective technology. Local certified potato varieties were propagated for use by the cooperatives. With the support of the International Potato Center, work is underway to improve the local varieties. At the same time, farmers are gaining access to new varieties that can be propagated locally. Smallholders can thereby benefit from certified seed that offers higher yields and better quality produce.
Cocoa. The programme has introduced solar dryers so that cocoa beans can be dried sustainably. This will improve the quality of the beans, and reduce the volume of wood used in traditional ovens. Four cooperatives are creating value by using roasting machines and presses to process cocoa beans and produce cocoa butter locally. The cooperatives are receiving general support in developing their role as industry stakeholders, and therefore enjoy a stronger negotiating position in the market.
Poultry. In collaboration with the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries, and the private partner CAPHAVET, the programme is setting up animal health and vaccination stations as a way of reducing mortality rates on local poultry farms. This is of particular benefit to women and young people, who can now reduce the risk of production failure and better supply local markets with high-quality animal protein.