Rice Value Chain Development

Cameroon Rice Into More Plates With The Rice Value Chain FCFA122 Billion Project

Rice, a staple cereal of Cameroonian households second only to corn, may eventually return in huge quantities and quality to the plates with the implementation of the Rice Value Chain Development Project (RVCDP).

Rice sold in Cameroon

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gabriel Mbairobe, launched the ambitious FCFA 122 billion project to boost production and transform livelihoods on September 13.

The project piloted in the Northwest region will be implemented in the Northwest (Ndop Plain, Mbonso Plain, Bafut Tigoh Valley), West (Bagourain and Santchou), and Far North (Maga Basin) for the next five years.

In 2018, Cameroon imported 561,000 tons of rice, and in 2019, the importation jumped by 59.4 percent. The demand for locally produced rice keeps soaring and does not meet the local production, which is insufficient.

To reverse the import trend and meet local demand, the rice project envisages producing 750,000 tons of rice by 2030. To increase rice production from the present level of 4.5 tons per hectare to 6 tons per hectare, the project would have to strengthen links to markets and foster an enabling policy and institutional environment, among other things.

It is expected that 230,000 jobs will be created, especially for women and youth, and boost the production of smallholder farmers.

According to Khan Javed, Islamic Development Bank Regional Operations Team Leader, this is the biggest project in the rice sector in Cameroon, with the IsDB contributing 79 million euros.

“The project opens opportunities for the country and for other member countries to learn from the implementation and benefits for women and youth. If implemented well in five years, there would be more rice to eat,” the IsDB Regional Operations Team Leader stated.

Launch of the RVCDP in Yaounde-Hilton
Khan Javed speaks to the media

Stressing that rice is the second cereal after corn, which is consumed and contributes to food security, Gabriel Mbairobe, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, thanked financial partners, IsDB, Kuwait Fund, OPEC Fund, Saudi Fund, and Abu Dhabi Fund for their contribution to Cameroon’s vision in the agriculture sector.

The Minister said the project would contribute not only to rice production but also to the mechanization of agriculture, as farmers would benefit from training, equipment, and social amenities to be provided in rural areas, such as health centers, schools, warehouses, and water points.

Minister Gabriel Mbairobe -MINADER

“The project is a nursery for the new generation of agricultural entrepreneurs whose projects would be funded. This is a holistic project that would contribute to increasing irrigated land for rice cultivation by about 7000 hectares and equip the farmers for the take-off of rice production, which would increase income and ameliorate livelihoods,” the Minister stated.

Stakeholders at the launch of the RVCDP
WhatsApp Image 2021-09-29 at 9.22.09 AM

“Becoming First Woman Sweet Potato Bread Baker Changed My Life”-Odette Fin

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.