E-Newsletter Media Centre

Ecological Balance Cameroon, Making Strides in Rewilding Etinde Community Forest

Ecological Balance Cameroon has since 2019 been engaged in rewilding community forests in Cameroon, with a firm belief in the prospects of community forestry in saving Cameroon’s portion of the Congo Basin Rainforest. With a specific focus on rewilding the Etinde Community forest in South West Cameroon from 2021-2024, the Organization has so far planted over 5000trees in patches of the forest hitherto depleted for farming activities.

After witnessing over 2/3 of rivers and streams in their community dried up, the local people came to the realization that trading watershed (forests) for farms would have a disastrous effect in the long run and invited Ecological Balance Cameroon to help them ‘’patch up’’ their watershed.

Mola Ndive, member of the Etome Reforestation Task Force explained that “reforestation is a parental duty, because how can the next generation survive without water”.

 Mr Ekwalla Samuel, a member of the Etinde Community Forest Management Council, noted that the continuous loss of forests to agricultural activities, fuel wood, and timber harvesting can only be curbed through community forestry. “With community forestry, each village is responsible for their portion of the forest, and we make sure they remain as natural as possible,’’ he added.

The Etinde Community Forest is part of a chain of protected areas within the Mt. Cameroon forest landscape. It is host to forest elephants, chimpanzees, drills, mandrills, Cameroon Preussi monkeys, Cameroon red-eared monkeys, Mt. Cameroon francoline and other amazing wildlife. This biodiversity hotspot has 175 globally threatened trees, 25 of which are critically endangered and 28 endangered. It rates second in Africa and 16th globally for threatened trees and within Cameroon, 15 of the country’s endemic trees are recorded from here. Community engagement galvanizes rewilding, ensuring long-term conservation of wildlife/habitats. It can also create employment and build a near-real-time system to monitor deforestation, especially illegal logging.

Community forestry is forest management in which forest adjacent communities manage and use forests, often with some form of legal authority to do so. It is primarily driven by local community benefits and ecological sustainability goals. In Cameroon, the concept was first brought in as part of the country’s new forest policy of 1992, whose two main objectives were to protect the environment & preserve natural resources and to involve the local peoples in the conservation and management of forest resources.

 This was based on the assumption that communities fully master their forests and can better manage them with the proceeds ploughed back for the development of the community with an aim to improve their living standards. In order to put these ambitious plans into effect, Law No. 94/01 of 20 January 1994 to lay down forestry, wildlife and fisheries regulations (the Forest Code) was approved by the National Assembly and enacted by the President. Limbi Blessing, the Executive Director of Ecological Balance, sees forests in Cameroon are natural Automated Teller Machines (ATM), which provide cash all year round through forest spices, nuts, fruits, tannins, herbs, etc. This means that community forestry can serve as a vital tool for decentralization, an efficient strategy for achieving sustainable resource management and poverty alleviation.

By Njiafu Benardin

E-Newsletter Media Centre

15 Young Cameroonians Acquire Skills on Plastic-Free Packaging Production

Ecological Balance Cameroon has built the capacity of some 15 young Cameroonians in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon on the use of paper to produce various packaging materials. This was during a 2-week-long  training workshop in Buea, from August 30 to September 10, 2022.

Plastic Waste Man

The workshop was organized as part of Ecological Balance’s commitment to develop sustainable value chains for non-wood tree products in Cameroon. The youngsters were trained and strategically positioned to provide packaging material for the many small businesses emanating every day. They were drilled on the production of different types of bags, boxes, and others.

Arrey Esther, one of the trainees, thanked Eco Balance for the “timely training workshop”. She expressed her desire to begin a packaging business with the skills acquired.

 According to the Cameroon Ministry of Environment Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development, about 600,000 tons of plastic waste are generated in Cameroon every year. Most of these end up in the environment, and if present trends continue, by 2050, the amount of plastic in oceans will outweigh the number of fish. Also, Cameroon spends over US$ 190 million on the importation of plastics annually (UN COMTRADE , 2018). By every means, we have to pave the way for a plastic-free future. one of the major challenges faced by small businesses in Cameroon is the lack of appropriate and affordable packaging material.

By Limbi Blessing Tata

E-Newsletter Media Centre

Ecological Balance Braces up to Introduce Black Soldier Fly Farming in Cameroon

Ecological Balance Cameroon is gearing up to start training local farmers in Cameroon on how to use Black Soldier Fly (BSF) to break down organic waste to generate farm inputs and proteins for animal feed, drawing inspiration from neighbouring Nigeria. BSF (Hermetia illucens) is a valuable insect species whose larvae have enormous potential for converting organic waste into compost, while the larval biomass generated could also be harvested for its protein and fatty acid content.

Ecological Balance Cameroon is working with Tobe Adegbite, the Founder/Director of a Nigeria-based organization, Entojutu Nigeria, to develop a model that would enable farmers to adopt the circular economy through BSF farming. According to Tobe Adegbite, the BSF farming is the way to go for both organic waste management and protein generation. ‘’Farmers that we have trained have had their expenditure on animal feed decreased by 20-40%. Others are able to break down over 400kg of farm waste in one month’’, Mr. Tobe asserted.

The Executive Director of Ecological Balance Cameroon. Ms. Limbi Blessing Tata, explained that the farm-specific model will involve the training of first the host institution Ecological Balance Cameroon (to serve as a seed bank) and then cohorts of farmers all over the Buea Municipality. “This would be followed by a three months mentorship period supervised by Ecological Balance, and 9 months period of upscaling during which each farmers cohort is expected to treat at least 400kg of solid waste per month,” she added. Meantime, Entojutu and Ecological Balance plan to source for better markets where 90% of the proceeds would go to the farmer and 10% to both organizations for sustainability. 

The coming of this project is expected to contribute to solving the problem of waste management in the Buea Municipality, and Cameroon as a whole. The Buea municipality is located on the Eastern slopes of Mount Cameroon with a population of about 300, 000 people.  Over 60% of the waste generated in this area is organic but the population has rather transformed roadsides into dumping sites; breading disease vectors, blocking the drainage, and polluting nearby water sources.

The quick development in the worldwide human populace and urbanization have prompted expanding requests for food creation and natural waste administration. As the requirements for nutritious food keep rising, it is basic to guarantee current and future food security, reduce waste generation, and promote sustainable farming that includes residue reuse and waste valorization. The use of the Black soldier fly an arising green innovation, addresses a tremendous potential in waste management. The fly can surprisingly decrease a wide variety of wastes and concurrently offer valuable animal or human feed and oil with high nutrient composition

  Limbi Blessing and Agborkang Godfred

E-Newsletter Media Centre

Ecological Balance Cameroon Trains Youths in Buea on Plantain Sucker Multiplication

 In the phase of increasing population, food prices, food insecurity, and youth unemployment, Ecological Balance Cameroon provided hands-on training on the botany and business of plantain sucker multiplication to some 6 youths in Bomaka-Buea. This experiential learning session, which brought together the young adults from different communities in Buea, September 8, 2022, sought to train those who will in turn transfer the skills to other youths in their communities.

The Executive Director of Ecological Balance Cameroon, Madam Limbi Blessing Tata implored the trainees to take advantage of various business opportunities that exist in the sector.

In Cameroon, especially in the southern regions, plantain farming is one of the major activities carried out on small and large scales for home consumption and commercial purposes respectively. The price of the cash crop has become exorbitant due to increasing population and scarcity of food.  ‘’At the Muea market in Buea, a bunch of plantain that was sold at FCFA 3,500 months ago, is now sold FCFA 6,000 or FCFA 6,500,” Mrs. Akeng Ruth, a Muea denizen said. The leaves of the cash crop, used locally in the preparation of delicacies like Achu, Koki, Kwacoco have also become expensive, with a bundle of 3 leaves costing FCFA 500, she added.  

Mr. N. Tipar, a student of the Department of Agriculture at the University of Buea, South West Cameroon, says he depends mainly on plantain suckers for his livelihood. ‘’I multiply and sell plantain suckers to farmers. I make about FCFA 2,400,000 ($4000) from plantain suckers every year. I also have a plantain farm where I planted over 1,500 suckers”, Tipar disclosed.

 Plantain, Musa paradisiaca (syn. Musa sapientum) is an herbaceous perennial belonging to the family Musaceae. It is a gigantic herb that springs from an underground stem, or rhizome, and grows to 3–10 tall with a sturdy pseudostem and large broad leaves arranged spirally at the top. The leaves are large blades with a pronounced central midrib and obvious veins. They can reach up to 2.7 m in length and up to 0.6 m in width. Each pseudostem produces a group of flowers from which the fruits (which are green to brown-yellow) develop in a hanging cluster(bunches). In commercial plantations, the parent plant dies after harvest and is replaced with a daughter plant.

Plantain is a zero waste plant, and income can be generated from all its parts. The suckers (roots) can be vegetatively propagated and sold, the pseudostem is used in the production of biodegradable pads, the fruits provide a staple food, the leaves are used in the preparation of other meals, and the flowers have been implicated in the traditional treatment of typhoid.

Plantains grow best in hot (>27°C ) and humid (>50% humidity) climates in soil that is well drained & aerated, rich in organic matter soil, with pH between 5.5 to 7.0, requiring rainfall of at least 1000 mm (39.4 in) per year and high light intensity. Plantains are grown mainly from suckers which are vegetatively propagated, and this has been explored as a business opportunity over the years.

After planting, frequent weeding is required until plants are tall enough to shade out competing plants. In about 12-15month after planting, the fruits which are in bunches can be harvested and can be eaten raw or ripened. The fruits can also be transformed to plantain chips, and or plantain flour, increasing the monetary value and shelf life.

By Agborkang Godfred E.         .