Massive destruction of farms by fire

Native farmers have ended up with shattered hopes, as farmers we are still harvesting scandals of injustice, intimidation, destruction of crops, fear, insecurity, hate, human rights abuses, and environmental crimes. 

“It is amazing and surprising that they don’t noticed any fire/smoke in our large farm for two weeks, only a neighbouring farm and forest”

Photo - Our Farm Road 23.04.2016

In March 2016 about 20 hectares of our Cocoa farm was wiped out by the devil’s fire!

Man-made bushfires for palm oil have gutted our Cocoa farms in Betock Village other farms in neighbouring Villages in Nguti sub-region of Cameroon! That’s the reality on the ground is greed for more land to plant palms. The root of the problem is the practice of forest clearance known as slash and burn, where land is set on fire as a cheaper way to clear it for palm planting. 

Please note - we are not looking any financial support or would take it. We are only sharing our experience and information. Thanks

“The fire was rising from this vast Cocoa agricultural estate, some more than a mile wide, lighting up the sky, the estate located next to the village, the main road to Nguti and other farms in the Village, but no person detected the fire for weeks. The fire was related to deforestation for predominantly oil palm cultivation”.

Photos - Going for field inspection and damaged evaluation 23/03/2016
Old Gloucester farms of Betock, South West Region of Cameroon

Old Gloucester farms of Betock - 23/03/2016



 “It is amazing and surprising that they don’t noticed any fire/smoke in our large farm for two weeks, only a neighbouring farm and forest”

Historically there has been a 'them and me' - owning of a large Cocoa estate in the village, you face huge problems to find efficient and honest managers, local villagers usually refuse to work as day-labourers for the you and most jobs are taken up by migrant workers. Some villagers and elites resented my present bringing development to the village and exposing their illegal activities, the some villagers, mostly youths don’t hesitate to harvest my crops for their own benefit, as a result my cocoa estate prove economically a battle. Stealing, illegal forest sales, illegal logging, drunkenness, and deceptions were the rule in the village. Spite, Jealousy, and Private interest by some villagers who have the believe that they have a legitimate right to sell indigenous land to non-indigenes/migrants who are attracted to the village by numerous farm job offers as well as by the fertile soils for private farms.

Some Cocoa plants survived the fire - 23/03/2016

To stop any expansion of my estate, a youth sold a piece of our village land to Joseph Ebit, a well-known “slash and burn” non-indigenes operator who cleared and burnt the land/forest for palm planting, the point of origin of the devil's fire came from here as pointed by a forestry post agent, the fire escalating into neighbouring indigenous Cocoa farms. With an ageing population, thoughtless youths, the absence of leadership, and the absence of well-balanced sustainable management and development plan of the village, we see an environmental, social and economic disaster waiting with indigenes as strangers with no land rights, with no land for the future generations.

The main economic activity carried out in Nguti Sub-Division is Agriculture. The principal cash crops produced in Nguti are Cocoa, Coffee, Palm trees and Oranges. Food crops such as Plantains, Cocoyams, Bananas, Cassavas, Groundnuts and Egussi are also common in the area However; the latter is mainly for subsistence farming. The Nguti forests are exploited both for Timber and for Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs). The NTFPs harvested here include the following - Ricinodendron heudeulotii (Njansang), Irvingia gabonensis (Bush mango), Gnetum africanum (Eru), Pebbe, Country Onion, Bitter cola, Bush meat of diverse species (Porcupine, deer, cutting grass, pangolin and antelopes) etc.

The fires were made worse by a growing palm oil industry in the sub-region that provides incentives for farmers to clear their land and plant the lucrative crop. Palm oil has been the most profitable crop in recent years so much of the slash and burn is directed at clearing forest for palm farms. The rampant slash and burn policy associated with the farming of palm plants is destroying large areas of the sub-region forest and farmlands.

In Betock Village a fire started by Joseph Ebit, a well-known “slash and burn” operator from outside the Nguti sub region, the fire did escalated to the neighbouring farms, large number of huge farmlands of cocoa and other crops were destroyed. The reality is that the Cocoa farms were always under threat from Joseph Ebit who illegally purchased land/forest from a Betock youth. See photos of destruction. Individuals are illegally selling our village forest and timber trees with Impunity to Outsiders secretly, occasionally supported by external Elites and Family members from Kumba. The Wickedness in them you Fear! Are the sellers and buyers above the Cameroonian Law in Betock Village? They think so!

Today the inhabitants of Betock, inducing Ayong, Ebanga, Manyemen, and Sikam Villages are faced with the challenges of the overwhelming influx of economic migrants, SGSOC, illegal loggers, thieves, and refugees who pose a considerable threat to the very survival on our ancestral lands and investments. We can’t be marginalized in our villages - politically, economically, socially, and culturally.

Betockvoices who led a team of officials to the damaged farm of Old Gloucester farms of Betock, to assess the extent of the damage, they described the incident as a “tragedy”, considering the huge Cocoa farmland that have been utterly destroyed by the fire. Some will it find it hard to believe that the Betock villagers are still illegal selling the forests to strangers like Joseph Ebit and others, the illicit sellers are well protected by leading family members in the townships. The reality is that our forests and indigenous farms are under further threats by the slash and burn buyers associated with the farming of palm oil and rubber. We sympathized with the affected farmers over their great loss.

 BetockVoices has being campaigning against this disastrous illegally selling our ancestral forests by some villagers, the illegal logging, illegal land grabs by foreigners, corruption, and the slash and burn practices by ambitious outsiders for oil palm cultivation who are encouraged by this irresponsible innovative economic model by the palm industry - “grab land and have free palm plants”.

Photos Old Gloucester Farms of Betock Nov.2015

Photos below - What we found on the 24th of March 2016
"cut and burn" by Joseph Ebit in Betock Village, Cameroon

BetockVoices has in the past being intimidated, abused, and threatened, kicked out from the local traditional and development councils in Betock Village for telling the truth, people failed to listen to BetockVoices for us to protect our forest and promote indigenous investments, today BetockVoices – the voiceless in Betock Village is a victim of Joseph Ebit reckless fire, losing about 20 ha Cocoa Estate.

Photo 23/04/2016 - We found Illegal logging on in front of our Farm - Section R

Most say - "they don't see the fire in the farm, BUT saved the timber"

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