Tree Nursery Business, Unknown Nature-Friendly Source of Employment for Youths

Access to quality native forest tree seedlings for reforestation and landscape restoration in Cameroon is sometimes an uphill task. Most conservation and environmental non-profit organizations have had to travel long distances to purchase these seedlings and at very high prices.  

“In the field of reforestation, getting the quantity and quality of native forest tree seedlings needed for planting isn’t always easy. It is the scarcity of seedlings of native forest species in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon and the demand of trees needed for reforestation that made me start up a 25,000-capacity native tree nursery in 2020,’’ Ms Limbi Blessing, the Executive Director of Ecological Balance Cameroon, stated.

In a country with over 30% youth unemployment, youths should be able to fill up this gap. The establishment of such a business will not only encourage people to plant trees but also sustainably generate income for the owner(s). It would also make for readily availability of native tree seedlings to the government, international organization, NGOs, farmers, and some individuals taking measures to restore degraded lands. As such, the enormous consequences of deforestation will be reduced.

Setting up a native tree nursery business, according to the Tree Nursey Manager of Ecological Balance Cameroon, requires just land, labour and techniques on seed collection & extraction, generation of germination beds, timing/aftercare during/after transfer to polybags, and keeping them safe from pests and diseases.

The Nursery Manager underscores the economic benefits of engaging in a tree nursery business noting that “a single native tree seedling sells from 1000XAF depending on the species. One could also incorporate ornamentals and fruit tree seedlings that also sell well.  Non-forest timber tree seedlings are even more expensive (from 1500XAF) and have a higher demand.”  He believes “it is possible to make up to 3,000,000XAF or more per year from this business with the right connections/contacts.’’

In Africa and the world at large, sustainable forest management remains a pressing issue. About 15 billion trees are cut down every year with just 9 billion replanted making a net loss of about 6 billion trees a year (UNFF). In Cameroon, a review done in 2015 led by the Ministry of the Environment Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development disclosed that 3,316,770 ha are impacted by degradation in the Far North region. Among the primary variables of degradation is the uncontrolled double-dealing of timber assets for resource needs, which has led to enormous consequences: water scarcity, flood, soil erosion, loss in biodiversity, and decrease in income, etc.

 By NJIAFU BENARDIN 

Bee Farming, a Sustainable Source of Employment for Forest Communities

Honey is a non-timber forest product that can serve as a veritable source of employment to forest communities, lessen poverty and enhance biodiversity conservation. According to forest conservationists, bee farming has the potential of changing the biodiversity conservation narratives. Forest adjacent communities see honey as a non-timber forest product that can help reduce poverty, strengthen biodiversity and conserve natural resources. The Cameroon Minister of Livestock Fisheries and Animal Industries, Dr. Taiga, noted recently that bee farming conserves ecological assets by increasing agricultural productivity through pollination.

Statistics indicate that there are over 20,000 bee farmers in Cameroon today, who earn about 30% of their yearly pay from selling honey and honey-related items. Mr. Lyonga Abel Toto is a bee farmer/trainer resident at Bova II, in Buea South West Region of Cameroon. He has been engaged in bee farming for the past 20 years. “I am married with 5 children, who are all in school. One of my children is reading Agriculture at Veterinary Medicine at the University of Buea.  Most of the income I use to sponsor these children in school and take care of my family comes from bee farming. It is a great source of livelihood,” Mr. Lyonga attested.

According to the experienced bee farmer/trainer, one Kenyan top bar beehive costs 25,000XAF and can generate about 20 liters of honey per year. “We use good hard wood like mahogany and with such., the hive can last for over 50 years. We sell a litre of honey at 4500XAF and we also get wax, pollen, propolis from the hives which have good markets,” he added.

Within the framework of the Irvingia Project, Ecological Balance, in May 18 2022, trained and donated basic equipment including Kenyan top bar beehive, honey harvesting suite, rain boots, hand gloves, etc. worth 100,000XAF to a start-up in Buea. This gesture came after an input vs output analysis carried out by Ecological Balance’s Volunteer, Aahan Kandoth, an economics student. “Total initial inputs amount to about 264,000XAF ($431) in training, basic equipment, 1 hive, labor, and packaging. This would result in about 200,000XAF ($327) in cash per year and over 7,000,000XAF ($11425) in social benefits (pollination, spread of money around the economy, health benefits from consuming natural honey),” the volunteer posited.

Bee farming like any other vocation requires the right training, equipment, and land. It starts with identifying an apiary, installation of beehives and then swarming or bathing of the hive with honey to attract bees. It is best to do this in the dry season. Monitoring, harvesting, and selling of bee products are also very vital parts of the farming process.

By Njiafu Benardin

Ecological Balance Donates Food Items to 15 Needy Families in Buea

Many women have been made widows and children orphans between 2016 and 2022 due to the ongoing socio-political crises in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon. Such families live in intolerable misery and unbearable poverty given that the said relatives were the main breadwinners/providers and strength of the family. Many of these only strive to survive. Cognizance of this, Ecological Balance Cameroon donated food items to 15 needy families in Buea South West Region of Cameroon.  

These items including rice, maize, palm oil, Salt, seasoning cube and soap were donated on May 27, 2022, within the context of the Organization’s food donation programme.

The beneficiary widows and orphans said the donation came at the opportune moment.  “I’ve been a widow for about 6 years now. Everything was fine until we were forced to leave our village to join my sister and her already large family in Bomaka-Buea. Feeding has really been a challenge,” Madam Ajua Rose said.

Madam Ndum Pauline, in total excitement, told the Ecological Balance food donation team; “I am very grateful for the food items. May the God that keeps widows bless you and increase you”.  

The food donation was a huge relief to the needy orphans and widows given the recent hike in the prices of basic commodities in Cameroon. “It is God that made you remember us at this time. Can you imagine that the prices of basic food items have almost doubled? They say there is war in some countries and I wonder why a war in another country should affect us this much. What we have received will go a long way to help us,” Madam Bridgette Dembele, noted.

According to the Executive Director of Ecological Balance, the food donation event for the second quarter of 2022 met its objectives. “The joy derived from the smiles on those faces of these widows and orphans cannot be put in words. We hope to reach out to many more families subsequently,’’ she added. 

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in 2021, there were more than 811 million hungry people in the world, most of whom live in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the midst of this, global statistics indicate that 33% of food produced globally is wasted.

By Agborkang Godfred Ebot

Ecological Balance Brazes up to Rewild Community Forests, Watersheds with 30,000 Trees

Ecological Balance is fine-tuning strategies and putting hands on deck to raise 35000 seedlings and ensure that at least 30,000 are planted before the end of 2022.

The Organization  is currently engaged in collecting seeds, filling in polybags with top soil mixed with fowl dung (organic manure), and potting of seedlings at it tree nursery in Bomaka-Buea, SW Cameroon, with a special focus on trees classified as threatened on the IUCN Red List. The potted seedlings are watered and dewed to ensure that they are healthy. .

Over 12000 seeds of Mahogany have so far been collected from Bokwango and 500 of njangsa from Bova and nursed. Over 2000 seeds of Leuceana  & 1000 of bauhinia have also been collected  from the University of Buea and over 1000 of seeds of acacia from Bulu and nursed. These seedlings will be added unto the 3323 seedlings of Jakaranda, Jathropha, prunus, mahogany, acacia, jack fruit tree, vocanga, njangsa, erythrina, sour sop, orange, lemon, pebbe, lueceana, bush mango, pignantus, money tree and plum tree seedlings that were raised in 2021.

“We have a big target this year of raising the nursery from 3323 trees in 2021, to 35000 in 2022, while hoping to  plant at least 30000 of them in community forests in Cameroon including the Etinde and Bakingili community forests, and water catchments. This only means we have to plan well and begin early,” said Madam Limbi Blessing, the Executive Director of Ecological Balance. 

According to her, these trees will  revamp community forest ecosystems, ensure community forest level sustainability in the management of forest resources, increase goods and services from forest and recharge ground water and improve water tables.  

NJIAFU BENARDIN

90% of 1000 Trees Planted at Etinde Community Forest Survives!

Up to 90% of over 1000 trees seedlings, which Ecologocal Balance planted into a deforested patch of the Etinde community forest in West Coast-Idenau of the South West Region of Cameroon in November 2021, have survived. This information was made public by the  Head of Forest Rewilding at Ecological Balance, Njiafu Benardin, following an evaluation trip to the Community Forest in February 2022.

Etome is one of the several villages that hosts the Etinde Community Forest in the Mount Cameroon Area, South West Region of Cameroon within the Bakingili forest landscape. This community forest continually lost its forest to deforestation for agricultural purposes, fuel wood and timber harvesting, and from lava flowing from Mt Etinde.

Cognizant of this and in line with its desire to provide habitat for wildlife and mitigate climate change, Ecological Balance Cameroon in 2021 committed to helping the village to rebuild their forest, tree by tree. Over 10 native species including Entandrophragma angolensis (big leave mahogany) Riccinodendron heudolotii (njangsa), Irvingia gabonesis (bush mango) and Monodora myristica (pebbe) and some fruit and nut producing trees were planted. The choice of these predominantly local spices-producing trees, was to make the women and community value their forest more and jealously preserve it

 Meanwhile, more tree planting events are planned for the months ahead. Routine monitoring and evaluation activities like deweeding, collection of data on growth characteristics, wildlife etc will continue for up to 24 months when the forest is expected to be self-sustaining. It is hoped that through this project, up to one hectare of degraded forest land will be restored in order to restore biodiversity habitats, recharge ground water recharge & improve water tables, increase quantities & varieties as well as sequester carbon amongst others. The rewilding project is being carried out  thanks to financial support from Stiftung Arthenschutz.  

Over 50 Cameroonian Youths Determined to Make a Difference After Inspirational Trip

“One of the things that I have learnt from this inspirational trip is how to balance my skills and certificates. I already acquired so many certificates and right know, I am embarking on developing my skills. I want to have something that I can actually do to serve my community and increase my living standard and those around me. This trip has served as an inspiration for that and I am really grateful,” said Dr Enama Albert, a Bomaka-based Cameroonian youth at the end of a 1-day Youth Inspirational Trip involving some 50 young people within the Buea Municipality, organized recently by Ecological Balance.

The Cameroon-based non-profit organization took the youngsters to some start up enterprises in Buea. These included a rattan craft and furniture center, and a packaging enterprise, where the founders and managers of shared their success journeys to let the youths know that there is so much they can do to navigate their way through the rising unemployment, poverty, lack of access to basic social security services and outright insecurity in Cameroon.

The young boys and girls sat through inspirational talks on topics like Entrepreneurial Mindset, The Missing Link Between Certificates and Skills, Holistic Communication, Academic Excellence & Research, The Co-operative Business Model and Backing for the Outstanding Youth amongst others as they journey from Buea to Down Beach-Limbe and back.  After seating through this journey, Betafo Evodia Kombe of Molyko-Buea now believes it is possible to make it in Cameroon. “This trip has inspired me to understand that I can make it here in Cameroon. I have come to understand that I can create an enterprise using the natural resources we have here in Cameroon like the rattan craft and furniture enterprise. All I need is to be focused, build and use my communication skills, dedicate my time in building new skills and looking for opportunities to invest the skills in,” she stated.  

Dr. Shey Robert Adamu, one of the Resource Persons noted that a visible change in the youths shortly after the Trip.  “Knowledge is power; with what we have dished out today, I think that there is a change in perspective, and mindset and they can be able to make a difference in their lives by themselves and not just relying on the Government,” he said. 

Aimed at inspiring youths to be the change they want, the Executive Director of Ecological Balance urged the young Cameroonians to leverage on the knowledge gathered from the different speakers, and take actions to make the change they want and be the change they want to see.

Ecological Balance Donates Food Items to 25 Displaced Families in Buea

Ecological Balance Cameroon has donated food items including rice, vegetable oil and chicken to 25 internally displaced families in the Buea Town, Muea, Bomaka, and Mile 16 communities in Buea. The donation was made 1st February 2022 within the framework of the Organization’s Eco Food Bank project.

The beneficiaries, 90% being mothers, expressed gratitude to Ecological Balance as they happily took their packs home. “I am very grateful for these food items donated to us today. Food stuff had completely gotten finished in my house, with no money to any.  So, these food items will be of great help to my family and I,” said one of the beneficiary Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Mrs. Ntah Stephanie. Another IDP, Mr. Ntowe Jean Paul, who is host to twelve children; both his biological children and other family relatives, heaved a sigh of relieve after receiving the donation. “I am grateful for this great initiative to save us from hunger,” he said.

These reactions brought so much joy and a sense of fulfillment to the Ecological Balance’s Executive Director, Limbi Blessing Tata.  “The smiles, stories and comments from beneficiaries each time we donate food always leave me overwhelmed with joy and I always get really emotional, I can’t help it!” she attested.  

While donating to the IDPs, Madam Limbi counselled her team to exercise respect and show love to the beneficiary. This attitude of the team has been widely appreciated by beneficiaries. Ecological Balance hopes to reach out to 100 displaced families with food and skills by the end of 2022.

Agborkang Godfred Ebot

Ecological balance’s Living Food Bank Produces More Food Crops for Needy Families

The Living Food Bank of Ecological Balance in Bokwango-Buea, South West Region of Cameroon had a bountiful yield of  a variety of crops during the last harvest in January 2022. Over 72kg of beans, 180kg of maize, and a good quantities of pumpkins, vegetables and cassava were harvest from the Living bank to meet the needs of internally displaced and or needy families in different communities in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon.

The Food Bank of Ecological Balance was established in 2019 to meet the needs of internally displaced families as a result of the arm conflict rocking the North West and South West regions of Cameroon, and other needy families. “We made an appeal to support internally displaced families but the donations that came in were not enough. Hence, we sowed that as seed to harvest more within a few months. We have a team with great skills in agriculture and wanted to make use of this and the rich volcanic soils in Buea to produce more food for the increasing displaced population in Buea,” Madam Limbi Blessing Tata, the Executive Director of Ecological Balance expounded.

With this increase in yields from the Living Bank, the Organization has raised its usual donations of food items from 20 to 25 families. The Living Food Bank is part of the Climate Smart Agricultural Programme of Ecological Balance, which seeks to end hunger, improve nutrition, ensure food security & sovereignty without harming the environment (forests, soils, and water).

BY AGORKANG GODFRED EBOT

Job Opportunities at Ecological Balance: Project Manager, Communication Manager

Call for applications: Job Opportunities  

Organization: Ecological Balance Cameroon

Category: Non-Profit Organization

Location/City: Buea, South West Cameroon

 

Background

Ecological Balance Cameroon is a non-profit organization dedicated to balancing conservation with livelihoods. It was registered in December 2016 with mission to empower communities that live near biodiversity rich ecosystems to undertake actions that would ensure the sustainability of their adjacent ecosystem.  This stems down from the belief that ecosystem conservation can be most sustainable if it is led by people living close to and more so if it contributes to their livelihoods.

 

We are currently hiring committed and reliable individuals, who are willing to contribute to our mission.

  1. Project Manager

The Irvingia programme is developing value chains for non-wood forest products in Cameroon. The aim of which is to help forest dependent communities to earn more money from non-wood forest products, so that they have reasons to protect their adjacent forests. Basically, we train forestpreneurs, help them establish forest-based businesses and help them market the end products. We are looking at expanding our operations to include a cooperative society and setting up of various production units. Within this context, we seek the services of a project manager to;

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Produce action plans presentations and reports on all activities
  • Organize trainings on adding value to/ processing to natural products
  • Set up and supervise small businesses
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts
  • Assist in proposal writing and production of research write-ups
  • contribute to strategies for product development, propose innovations in project implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • Assist in other activities etc.

 

Required Qualification

Young, energetic and motivated individual with at least 3years experience in project and business management. S/he should have conspicuous leadership skills and certificate(s) in Business Administration, Economics, Accounting, value chain development, forestry and related field.  Skills in commodity value chain development, product packaging, marketing strategies and projections are essential. Experience in project planning and management, resource mobilization & management, business models and business administration will be an added advantage.

 2. Media & Communications Manager

In order to properly communicate our activities, Ecological Balance seeks the services of a Media & Communications Assistant to help us manage all communications.

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Rebrand and restructure all communications
  • Manage all online communications platforms; facebook, instagram, twitter, LinkedIn (create content, online adverts, direct live coverage etc to improve online presence) and ensure traffic on all media platforms
  • Direct picture & video coverage, edit videos, produce documentaries, podcasts, video reports etc.
  • Oversee all offline communication activities: produce write ups; oversea newspaper, radio and television programs; documentaries, brochures, roll ups, reports, press releases, ensure external coverage of events etc.
  • Oversea writing & reviewing of news articles and ensure on time publication of e-newsletters
  • Assist in the organizing and managing of events, production of plans and presentations
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts.
  • Assist in developing a Conservation Education curriculum, conducting environmental education and other activities within the organization

Required Qualification

Three years’ experience in media/communication/content development. Certificate in Journalism and Mass Communication, media studies, branding, marketing and any related field. Skills in graphic design, multimedia, branding and marketing are must haves.

How to Apply

Interested and qualified applicants should submit the complete application files comprising of a CV, motivation letter and copies of certificates to communication@ecobalances.org and cc limbitatab@ecobalances.org  latest January 15th 2021.

 

Limbi Blessing T.

Executive Director

Volunteer Positions at Ecological Balance

Call for applications: Volunteer Positions

Organization: Ecological Balance Cameroon

Category: Non-Profit Organization

Location/City: Buea, South West Cameroon

 

Background

Ecological Balance Cameroon is a community-based biodiversity conservation and sustainable development non-profit organization dedicated to balancing conservation with livelihoods. It was registered in December 2016 with mission to empower communities that live near biodiversity rich ecosystems to undertake actions that would ensure the sustainability of their adjacent ecosystem.  These stemmed down from the belief that ecosystem conservation can be most sustainable if it is led by people living close to and depending on it and more so when it contributes to their livelihoods.

We are currently seeking committed and reliable individuals, who are willing to contribute to our vision and mission for a 3-months renewable period.

 

 

  1. Project Assistant

Our Project Irvingia is developing value chains for non-wood forest products in Cameroon. The aim of which is to help forest dependent communities to earn more money from non-wood forest products, so that they have reasons to protect their adjacent forests. Basically, we train women/youths to add value to and/or process natural products to semi-finished and finished goods.

Within this context we seek the services of a project assistant.

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Produce action plans presentations and reports on value chain development activities
  • Organize trainings on adding value to/ processing to natural products
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts
  • Assist in proposal writing and production of research write-ups
  • contribute to strategies for product development, propose innovations in project implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • Assist in other activities etc.

 

Required Qualification

Young, energetic and motivated individual with conspicuous leadership skills and certificate(s) in Business Administration, Economics, Accounting and related field.  Skills in commodity value chain development, product packaging, marketing strategies and projections are essential. Experience in project planning and management, resource mobilization & management, business models and business administration will be an added advantage.

 

  1. Agricultural technician

Our Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Programme requires the services of an agric technician.  CSA is an integrated approach to managing landscapes (cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries) that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change. The goal (dilemma) being to produce enough food without significantly harming the environment (soil, forests etc).

Within this context, the agricultural technician is expected to bring on board skills in modern agricultural practices and technology.

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Support in the day to day management of food banks and demonstration farms
  • Put forth strategies for expansion of existing projects and creation of more innovative one (irrigation systems, clean energy farming etc)
  • Support the development of training schemes in farm optimization, forest gardening, apiculture, mushroom cultivation, grafting, marcoting, tissue culture, plant multiplication
  • Equipment operation (Drone, tractor)
  • Agric management software/apps
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts
  • Assist in other activities etc.

 

Required Qualification

Young, energetic and motivated individual with conspicuous leadership skills and certificate(s) in Agriculture, Plant Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geography, Crop Production/Protection and related field.  Skills in entrepreneurship, commodity value chain development, product packaging, marketing strategies and projections would come in handy. Experience in project planning and management, resource mobilization and management will be an added advantage.  Knowledge in business models, business administration and management would be a plus.

 

  1. Media & Communications Assistant

In order to properly communicate our activities, we seek the services of a Media & Communications Assistant to help us manage all communications.

 

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Develop a Conservation Education curriculum
  • Carryout environmental education in schools & communities
  • Assist in organizing and managing conservation awareness events
  • Produce plans, presentations and reports on biodiversity conservation activities
  • S/he should be familiar with and possess skills in the management of all known online platforms; facebook, instagram, twitter.
  • S/he is expected to produce online adverts, upload at least one post each week on all platforms, direct live coverage and coordinate everything that can help improve our online presence.
  • S/he will work with our team on the field to produce short documentaries, brochures etc.
  • Respond to comments and do all necessary to increase traffic on our media platforms.
  • S/he will direct picture & video coverage, edit videos, produce documentaries, podcasts etc.
  • Develop social media & website content and assist in promoting and publicizing activities
  • Produce and/or proofread reports
  • Oversea writing of news articles, assist in the reviewing of articles, assist in the publication of e-newsletters
  • Develop ideas and support fundraising efforts and assist in reforestation activities etc.

 

Required Qualification

Certificate in Journalism and Mass Communication, media studies and any related specialization or currently embarking on studies in any of these domains. Skills in graphic design and multimedia would come handy.

 

General Required Competences

  • Passion and interest in mission and objectives of Ecological Balance
  • Good team spirit and communication skills
  • Ability to speak and write good English, knowledge of French will be an advantage
  • Ability to work and interact with people of different backgrounds
  • Ability to multi task and work under pressure
  • Willingness to adhere to Ecological Balance’s core values

 

Benefits

  • A valuable opportunity to learn and gain the much needed experience required in the job market for your area of specialization
  • Brings you in touch with other like-minded individuals in career for more meaningful networking
  • Fulfillment and happiness for making a real and valuable impact on nature, communities and the society
  • Possibility of being employed after the stated period
  • Attestation of service and/or recommendation for greater opportunities

 

How to Apply

Interested and qualified applicants should submit the complete application files comprising; a motivation letter, copies of certificates and a CV to: limbitatab@ecobalances.org latest December 31st 2021.

 

Limbi Blessing T.

Executive Director