A safe haven for women to bond, look out for each other and become financially independent in the crisis ridden Northwest village-Fungom Farms
Odette Fin, 32 years, mother of four, is proud to have been trained to be the first woman sweet potato bread baker in Menchum Division, Northwest Cameroon.
Like most women in the area, Fin made a living from farming but now she sees her life differently.
Her story to becoming the first woman sweet potato baker stated in 2019 when the Fungom Farms set its base in her village.
First, with other women, she farmed potatoes, harvested, cleaned and transformed to flour, stocked it in bags.
Then, an opportunity came knocking to train in baking. Fin and two other women enrolled but they preferred farming, so she was the only person completed the training.
Fungom Farms, a family business that owns the IR company- a sustainable development cooperative, working together to ensure food security in the village, brought in a baker who trained Fin.
Today she is the pride of the community as the first female sweet potato baker.
“I learnt baking for three months and now I am happy with my new life”, Fin said.
“My day starts with preparing my kids for school. When they are gone, i also head to the bakery. I sweep and keep the environment clean, clean the baking kit, measure and weigh the quantity of sweet potato flour that I mix with wheat flour”, she recounts.
On a typical business day, Fin can bake about 10,000 loaves ranging from FCFA 100, 250, and 500.
“The population are marveled because they did not know bread could be made from sweet potatoes. They love the bread”, she said.
As a baker, Fin says her life has changed, that she is living a good life compared to when she was farming.
“I pay school fees and buy books for my kids, I am grateful to Fungom Farms for investing in me, giving the new skill.
If there are any women interested, I advise them to learn baking.
The company which started in 2019, baking normal bread turned to sweet potato bread thanks to the research carried out by the manager.
Besides sweet potato bread, Cameroonian bakers are trying their skills in baking bread from cassava, cocoyam, plantain and yam to seduce customers.
In a way, they transform farm produce, for the population to eat organic food and reduce post-harvest losses.
The Fungom Farms , produce about 25 tons of potatoes every year and buy more from the villagers, one of the farm hands, Tchinda stated.
Fungom Farms based in Mekaf village, covering 25 villages does not only farm potatoes, but also vegetables, maize, groundnuts, soya bean, palms, cassava.
The farm sustains 370 families, 80 contributors, supplies five villages, and many customers.
With the ongoing crisis in the Northwest and Southwest regions, the idea of a cooperative has been a survival strategy as people could not go to their farms individually.
“Working as a group, a cooperative has built a bond among the members”, the Manager, Henry Bung stated.
Though women work as a cooperative where they are paid, they also own individual sweet potato farms, Bung added.