Fighting the Injustice
PROGRAMME FOR SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES IN THE SOUTH WEST PROVINCE OF CAMEROON (PSMNR-SWP)
Is the REPACIG community forest in the South West region of Cameroon land grab?
Villagers and elites of Ayong, Betock, Manyemen and Ebanga villages have always complained that they were not properly informed on the management their community forest and frowned at the management on the basis that it is a one man affair, that the present management stay suspended. They declared that they need the community forest up and running, calling on the DO, MINFOF and partners to assist them, they were assured that MINFOF and partners will setup a new management term, as stipulated in community forest text in the coming months.
REPACIG community forest has been proven to be leverage for colonial legacy, fear and embarrassment with an instrument of power against a backdrop of development assistance reminiscent to colonial times. Poor management, embezzlement of royalties from previous exploitation, corruption, and jealousy are the root of bad relationships among the elites and the community forest managers. The great question in future is who will benefit economically from the community forest in the new management setup? - Is it the state, the old barons, the international organisations, the external and internal elites or villagers? Is it the new community forest managers and their henchmen or the local individual who lives from that forest?
Millions of Euro or billions of FCFA from international donors (with strings attached to them) will be used to steering the popularity and subsequent trade-offs for programs promoting REPACIG community forest. Through documents like forest inventories, management plans and conventions between the State, GTZ, and the communities, they may keep the communities abbey in real time, exercising far more authority than even before. With the new REPACIG community forest management impending, the influence and power of MINFOF and their international collaborators may rise, while the power of the communities to control their forest activities may reduce, with the new REPACIG mangers having effective power and sometimes totally cut off from local communities they represent as before, having become captive to motivations other than the good of the community or the individual forest user.
The populations of Ayong, Manyemen, and Ebanga villages are increasing with more people resettling in the villages for agriculture, farmland/forest is rapidly reducing, and villagers complained of being neglected, deceived, and kept off important scenarios, the villagers may grab land from SGSOC or the community forest may be threatened.
Have international donors become more influential than ever in controlling the policies of natural resource management in Cameroon? These foreign saving forest organizations and their staff need to leave their headquarters in the cities for the challenges involved in having to work in complex local contexts alongside local people and their organizations.
For forest conservation to be successful, it needs the support and active involvement of the people living in and around forests. This requires a much stronger commitment to supporting the rights and capacities of local people, even if this is against the interests of national governments and powerful foreign land grabbing plantations investors. Have international forest organizations become more influential than ever in controlling the policies of natural resources management in Cameroon? http://betockvoices.page.tl/
The widespread slash and burn policy associated with the farming of palm oil is destroying large areas of this sub region of Nguti in Cameroon. They are powerful. They are also wiping out other crop traditional farmers in our sub region of Cameroon.
“What quantity of land will then be left for our prosperity in these villages, when they sold all lands to non-indigenes/migrants or burnt all of us out from our farms?”
BetockVoices will be always fighting for indigenous land rights of farmers and the communities. This growing trend of foreign investors taking over natural resources in developing countries is pitting the indigenous farming communities against big foreign corporations with money and connections. Because of this inherent inequality, a wall of silence is built and the story we hear, the company’s side of the story, always touts projects as a success.
Fighting the Injustice in Cameroon - “We believe that developing a sustainable and responsible palm oil industry in Africa is key to food security on the continent,” said Late Brue Wrobel of SGSOC. “We expect that when complete we’ll move half of families in the economic impact area into the middle class. We have lofty social ambitions there.” Herakles Farms sold to a British company, Volta Red in Ghana. Now SGSOC (HF) abandons all operations in Mundemba, Toko, Sikam, Manyemen, and Nguti areas.
We have to protect our land from various colonization projects and exploitation.
In the face of such half-hearted policy reform, rural people in Cameroon, where the palm-oil related land grab is most extensive, are still demanding that the World Bank Group keep out of further investment in palm oil until national legal reforms secure rural people’s land rights and until past abuses are redressed.
Government should be committed to investing in smallholder family farmers, which has multiple development benefits, particularly for poverty reduction and the improvement of food security and nutrition. The emerging global environment is providing even greater opportunities to invest in smallholder family farmers, but it is important to ensure that the right kinds of investments are made.
Government should recognized that smallholder family farmers can and do contribute to economic growth. They make vital contributions to social and economic development, provided suitable investments are made to create the conditions to enable them to do this. Looking at the needs of smallholder farmers holistically, there is a spectrum of interventions that are needed to tap this potential.
Smallholder family farmers are fundamental to food and nutrition security.
Imperialism today is no longer conducted by nation-states but, instead, by multi-national food corporations but the essence of the saga is unchanged - A poor and corrupted continent called Africa is being raped by powerful, wealthy land grab Westerners.
BetockVoices has always being fighting the Injustice, educating, advising, opposing, always want peace and development in the communities but we don’t support the pitiable and sometimes tainted governances. We are not against foreigners, only the Injustice to our people and greed by foreigners on our lands.
We most all protest and say no to the total and ruthless selling of our ancestral land in the Nguti sub region of Cameroon - There are serious signs on the ground which indicates that it is just a matter of time before the loss of the indigenous Betock community and other indigenous communities in neighbouring villages due to indiscriminate auction of the ancestral land.
One does not need a class room lecture, a pulpit sermon, a news room presentation or a presidential decree to believe that once indigenous communities lose their land and way of life, then, extinction is inevitable. We all know the story of Sikam Village in the Upper Balong district. We have major challenges to save our ancestral land and have genuine meaningful development projects like encouraging village youths to get involved in agricultural activities and show them that farming can be a major source of income if practiced and embraced in a serious and systematic way, the families of the farming youths will benefit from revenue raised from crop sales.
This may also halt the rural exodus that is taking place in our communities after the land sales. With the tarring of Kumba-Mamfe road these villages that are located along the new road will of economic importance to many strangers with only few marginal lands remaining for sale, this will leave many of us aliens on our ancestral lands. Please note that strangers are essential for development but not to sell the lot to them!
Please Support Small-scale local farmers, not foreign plantation land grab companies. Every Cameroonian would certainly agree that agriculture, in all its forms, represents the backbone of our economy. High-ranking government officials, including the President of the Republic, have made statements over the last decades to that effect. Yet, agriculture as we know it is carried out by men and women, who are hardworking, are rarely celebrated by the country and not respected by foreign plantation land grab companies and lazy villagers.
"With farmers being displaced and livelihoods hanging in the balance, the evidence is demanding that governments take a whole new approach building better food systems in Africa."
Fighting the Injustice of Land-Grabs in our region - Small holders can produce enough palm oil, which is used for cooking as well as soaps and lotions, to supply the local and international market if there is adequate government support. Industrial palm oil plantations are full of deceitful promises about development and jobs for the local communities, they also take away farming land from the local communities.
Corporate Social Responsibility....................60% of agro-industries do not respect engagements By Ajongakou Santos in Tiko
Most, at least 60% of ago-industries in Cameroon do not respect the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility, according to a study which also revealed that most agro-industries go against environmental protection norms by massively destroying the environment through burning of plastics that in turn pollute the air, land, and other water bodies around the communities in which they are based.
The study jointly done by the Confederation of Public Service Unions and Yaounde-based Civil Society Program was made public on Friday, June 11, 2015. It targeted local communities of the Niete, Tiko and Nguti council areas, and workers and management of companies such as HEVECAM, SOCAPALM, CDC and SG-SOC (HERAKLES farms).
It noted that by failing to implement their Corporate Social Responsibility these agro-companies only violate their engagements with the local councils and especially the State of Cameroon, that makes the respect of human and environmental rights, cultures, gender, social contracts and economic consideration of workers and local communities a pre-condition for granting concessions and licences to agro-industries..
The Civil Society Strengthening Programme that was established by the 10th European Development Fund and governed by the financial agreement signed between Cameroon and the European Union works to ensure protection of the environment and the respect of social and economic responsibility towards local communities and workers in and around major agro-industries. More from - http://themedianpaper-yde.blogspot.com/2015/06/corporate-social-responsibility.html
Foreign big money might be gradually rendering local farmers landless. Local communities are being treated as aliens. Many of these farmland investments have created untold problems, particularly related to land rights, social unrest, and corruption. Many projects have failed or foreign investors have simply given up, either for lack of finance, inexperience, difficult environmental conditions, or unrealistic assumptions about the crops and locations they chose. - “Treasury and local council officials have confirmed to SEFE that Herakles is yet to pay land rents demanded in the Presidential decrees of November 2013, yet are still operating in the area, in clear violation of the presidential order” the report reads. http://newswatchcameroon.blogspot.com/2015/06/herakles-farms-abandons-cameroon.html
Nguti in the Southwest Region was chosen because it has a long experience of land use planning; they are regarded as experts in negotiating land use with one council forest and three community forests. The subdivision also has experience in negotiating with the private sector (Herakles Farms), and government ministries such as the Ministry of Wildlife and Forestry (MINFOF) and NGOs (WCS, WWF) about boundaries of protected areas.
“Treasury and local council officials have confirmed to SEFE that Herakles is yet to pay land rents demanded in the Presidential decrees of November 2013, yet are still operating in the area, in clear violation of the presidential order” the report reads. http://newswatchcameroon.blogspot.com/2015/06/herakles-farms-abandons-cameroon.html
In Western Cameroon, agricultural communities live off the rich volcanic soil of their area. As farmers they grow pineapple, mango, papaya, lime, cacao, peanuts, avocado, plantains, cassava, and several other tubers. The people have therefore a strong attachment to the land, which is constitutes the region's main source of income and opportunity for employment. Land allows them to take care of their family’s needs and lead a decent life. http://www.relufa.org/programs/economicjustice/trade/fairfruit.htm
“Land grabs in Africa have helped to perpetuate economic inequalities similar to the colonial era economic imbalances”
“Agricultural investments by foreign companies have not benefitted us, but rather we have lost land to these companies investing here and we are being treated as aliens in our own land”.
The voiceless farmer 2013
“Foreign big money might be gradually rendering local farmers landless. Local communities are being treated as aliens”.
“Many of these farmland investments have created untold problems, particularly related to land rights, social unrest, and in some cases political instability. Many projects have failed or investors have simply given up, either for lack of finance, inexperience, difficult environmental conditions, or unrealistic assumptions about the crops and locations they chose”.
Many people are quick to attribute Africa’s predicaments to colonialism and its ramifications. To some extent this is true. Colonial masters designed African economies to suit their needs and not those of the local people. For example main roads and railways were built to convey minerals and crops for export and not to develop the internal economies.
Our Email address - BetockVoices@gmail.com