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 techniques.
  • 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.

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Analogue Forestry
Sustainable Agriculture

“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