Cameroon is one of the poorest nations in the world, ranked 144th out of 177 countries in the 2007 Human Development Report. Almost half of its population of 16 million people lives below the poverty line of one US dollar per day, and their rural population continues to fall further into poverty. The good news, however, is that agriculture is beginning to reemerge as a promising industry within Cameroon, and with the aid of the Agricultural Competitiveness Project (PACA) it will hopefully bring more of the population out of poverty and into farming and business.
This project, financed by World Bank, seeks to boost Cameroon’s agricultural productivity by further developing infrastructure in rural areas as well as investing in rice and maize cultivation. Almost 60% of Cameroon’s working population is employed in the agricultural field and many earn their living from exporting crops. According to PACA’s figures, “more than half of the project’s beneficiaries are young people”.
Project outcomes so far have seen increased rice yields (9% increase) and increased maize yields (12% increase). The production of broiler meat and egg production have also more than doubled. “The project has helped us access drying and preservation infrastructure facilities, which allowed us to cultivate 50 hectares of maize in 2012 instead of the 28 obtained in the previous year,” says Gilbert Kanango, a young farmer and member of the commercial interest group, IPIM, an association of farmers based in Bertoua, capital of the East province. Hunger in Cameroon will hopefully recede as a result.
Not only has agricultural production improved, but so has the infrastructure surrounding agriculture. Newer, more efficient agricultural equipment such as maize threshers have been acquired, and PACA has also financed road rehabilitation in farming zones, making it easier to facilitate the transport and trade of the produce. This project will hopefully continue to grow the agricultural sector in Cameroon and allow rural areas to pull themselves out of poverty. This sustainable agricultural progress will also be beneficial in dealing with food insecurity. With more food to go around and an all-around more stable economy, infrastructure, and agricultural sector, Cameroon can pull its population out from below the poverty line.
– Sarah Rybak