Meg Wah, Cameroon
- DefinitionDevising project idea, defining the aim and main components
- DesignSpecifying details such as time-frame, budget, target indicators, project partners and relevant steps to reach the project objectives
- Open to FinancingSearching and securing funding and investment, setting up relevant financing partnerships, and discussing payment modalities
- ImplementationExecution of feasibility studies, context analysis, plot design, planting and setting up facilities and starting with potential capacity-building
- MaintenanceOperational phase (monitoring and evaluation, impact assessments and adjustments, execution of educational programmes and long-term capacity building)
- Scaling UpScaling up phase is when the project it has already shown success by obtaining impact as well as economic results and it's ready to become replicable.
The aim of this project is to introduce regenerative agroforestry practices to smallholder cocoa farmers in rural Cameroon’s Tali community. Together with the local NGO Meg Wah (“My Earth”), we are committed to combating ongoing deforestation caused by the spread of monoculture plantations for cocoa, bananas, and rubber, as well as the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources.
The aim is to establish a cocoa cooperative that will be able to negotiate better prices for harvested cocoa while also providing services to farmers. Technical assistance will be provided on implementing sustainable regenerative agroforestry practices that will stabilize productivity, reduce the need for additional land clearing, and benefit the environment. Cocoa will be intercropped with other crops and plants, increasing its value, promoting biodiversity and improving ecosystem services.
The Importance of the Cooperative
With our main goal for this project being to improve livelihoods and counteract deforestation, we plan to accomplish this through the development of a cooperative and the provision of technical assistance. Poverty, and the subsequent push to grow cash crops like rubber, bananas, and cocoa in monoculture plantations, has resulted in the clearing of vast areas of the region’s pristine forests. Farmers in Tali are trapped in a poverty pit, as their livelihoods are heavily reliant on cocoa production, but they are at the mercy of middlemen who are currently offering low prices for low-quality cocoa.
The need for growing more cocoa to sustain livelihoods has resulted in unsustainable monocropping, ending in a vicious cycle of having to raise demand by purchasing pesticides and fertilizers and paying interest rates that are rarely earned back. Alternative farming techniques are needed to ensure food security, stabilize demand, and reduce the need for expansion. Farmers, on the other hand, have recognized the need for a single body through which they can organize, professionalize, and learn about sales.
Meg Wah will be in charge of forming a farmer cooperative that will be run locally. Their direct interaction with farmers and ongoing focus group discussions are expected to be beneficial in this situation. The farmer cooperative will not only educate and train farmers, but it will also be able to express their common interests in order to negotiate better cacao prices. It will also assist farmers in the purchase of ovens for drying cocoa and adding value locally. By implementing a Model Farm and a Model School, reNature will serve as a technical partner with a focus on introducing regenerative farming practices in the cooperative. The Model Farm will illustrate context-specific regenerative agroforestry cocoa activities, while the Model School will enable farmers to implement the model on their own plots through customized capacity-building.
Reducing reliance on external inputs
The demonstration plot will illustrate how cacao can be grown in a way that is both environmentally friendly and not too reliant on external inputs. Cacao farming in a regenerative agroforestry system will provide a much-needed alternative to the current unsustainable practices, which heavily rely on agrochemicals and will see productivity decline as time passes. The creation of the design as well the implementation will be conducted under close participation of the local community to drive ownership locally.
The cocoa agroforestry design, like any other regenerative method, will create fertile topsoil that will store carbon, improve water cycling, and boost soil biology. This, in combination with increased plot diversification, use of different vegetational layers, and reduced chemical inputs, would directly support biodiversity on and around the plots. Increasing productivity as well as producing additional by-products including food, fodder and biomass for fuel will have a positive impact on surrounding pristine forests as the need for further clearings and extraction is reduced.
Stabalizing and increasing cacao yields
Through creating a more resilient farming system, cacao yields will be stabilized and increased, which will directly boost farmer livelihoods in Tali. By incorporating indigenous food crops into the agroforestry system and rising farmer profits, food security will be improved. Additional ecosystem services resulting from the adoption of regenerative practices, such as increased water retention, decreased need to harvest fuelwood from nature, and climate change resilience, will directly benefit community livelihoods.
Cacao processing such as solar oven-drying, fermenting and roasting will be organised within the cooperative, making the commodity more appealing to consumers. Furthermore, the produce can be transported and sold directly in markets, eliminating the need for middlemen. A knowledge center will be established for farmers to get advice on quality control and meeting trade standards, as well as invest in value-added products.