Local Economic Development - Page 3
In the NW region a similar study was conducted
to document baseline socio-economic and resource use information on three communities earmarked for Analog
Forestry introduction by CENDEP. It provided information on the demographic, socio-economic and socio-political
environment and resource patterns in the earmarked villages. In summary:
- The estimated population of the five villages targeted for analogue forestry introduction is about 37,800
inhabitants. It is a typically rural population having over 90% of this population of Nso ethnic origin.
Generally the female population is said to be higher than male.
- Over 95% of the population depends on agriculture as a source of livelihood. Farming contributes close to
70% of household income with the main commercial crops produced being beans, potato and maize. Other
sources of livelihood are livestock rearing, remittance, apiculture, provision of hired labor and petty
trade. Major livestock reared include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and local chicken. Average annual
household incomes are 136,348 FCFA for Kitiwum, 286,375 FCFA for Wvem cluster and 442,440 FCFA for Mbiame.
- A multi-tier traditional administrative system operates in the area, having distinct traditional structures
and functions, highly respected in the communities. These structures elaborate rules which regulate access
to land and other resources, although with increasing modernization several aspects have been adapted to
Government regulations and policies.
- Basic social infrastructures are either absent or inadequate. Poor road accessibility, inadequate extension
services, inadequate health and education facilities, lack of electricity in some villages, land scarcity,
declining soil fertility and crop productivity, degraded water catchments, water shortages, high costs of
and low quality agricultural inputs and poor market accessibility are some of the problems contributing to
low standards of living.
- The target villages are land scarce, resulting in fragmentation of farm plots and seasonal migration to
other villages in search of agro-business employment opportunities and fertile and additional agricultural
land. Although all land belongs to the State land is distributed and owned in these villages through
lineage systems based on traditional rules and customs. Lineage membership implied the right to live on and
till the land, often with the knowledge of the lineage head or ‘land lord’ in charge. In the
past, non lineage members provided a token comprising a calabash of wine and a local chicken to the lineage
head in exchange for a gift of agricultural land and subsequently provided defined measures of maize during
harvesting seasons annually. Non lineage members access land either by purchase, gift or rents (paying
either cash or farm produce). Women may acquire and inherit land although inheritance is still largely by
male children. Grazing land which in the past was common property with open access is increasingly being
secured by graziers through the acquisition of title deeds over defined areas.
- The main local agricultural zones present are forest, home gardens, swamps, hill slopes and lower plain
fields where different cropping systems are practiced. Intercropping is common practice in all villages.
Cereals, legumes, annual and perennial tree crops are intercropped to diversify food and income sources,
minimize risks, optimize land and labor resources and control erosion. The main cropping season is in the
rains where a variety of cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables are produced. Potato, beans and vegetables
are relayed in the dry season especially in the swamps. Irrigation is practiced on a small scale to produce
dry season crops largely for commercial purposes. Land preparation is labor intensive with bush burning
still in practice. Inorganic fertilizers are in use for the production of maize and to some extent potato
and vegetables. Main problems faced by farmers include among others disease and pests, high costs of
fertilizers, declining soil fertility, low cost of farm produce and limited knowledge on improved farming
- Water availability is critical in the villages and main sources include portable water harnessed by gravity
mainly from springs, streams, springs, and to a lesser extent wells. Water related problems include
inadequate treatment, shortages in the dry season, long distanced to existing water points, contamination
by livestock, lack of finances to renovate existing structures and or exploit additional sources.
- The most important forest resources are land for agricultural purposes and grazing of livestock, water for
domestic and other uses and wild honey. There is high competition for available land by farmers in search
for new and more fertile farmlands, cattle graziers in search of natural pastures and the need to maintain
natural forests as forests for conservation and other purposes. High altitudes, destruction of forest cover,
coupled with the presence of species such as eucalyptus which deplete soil moisture result in reduced water
tables. The degradation of forests by anthropogenic, edaphic and natural factors remains a major challenge
if not curbed through mitigation methods such as forest restoration, improved agricultural practices and
integrated landscape management practices. Other products of less significance include forest foods such as
mushroom, medicinal plants, fuel wood and timber.
“Access is needed to information on how successful NTFP commercialization can be achieved in
practice, so that external support and donor investments can be targeted more effectively.”
The Right Honourable Hilary Benn MP Secretary of State for International Development Government
of the United Kingdom