Roots and tuber farmers in Cameroon to get better market access through new IFAD-backed development programme

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Roots and tuber farmers in Cameroon to get better market access through new IFAD-backed development programme

Press release number: IFAD 30/03

Rome, 23 July, 2003 - Small producers of roots and tuber crops in Cameroon, who are mostly women, will benefit from a USD 21.7 million programme that will help them sell their products to local, national and international markets.

The programme will be financed largely by a USD 13.1 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to the Republic of Cameroon. The loan agreement was signed today at IFAD headquarters by H.E. Michael Tabong Kima, Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon to Italy, and the IFAD President, Mr Lennart Båge.

Roots and tubers are important staple foods in Cameroon. They account for 70 per cent of the total cultivated area in the country and 46 per cent of food crop production. Women represent 90 per cent of roots and tuber producers and small processors. They mainly grow cassava, but also taro, yams, sweet potatoes and potatoes.

Poor organizations among farmers and lack of access to market information and opportunities have prevented small farmers from marketing their products effectively.

“Farmers and small processors in Cameroon have faced severe difficulties in getting access to markets, improved technologies and financial services,” said Mr Båge. “This programme will enable people to respond to market demand and take advantage of new opportunities.”

The programme will enable farmers to better organize themselves at the village, district and regional levels. Farmers and small processors will learn how to develop marketing strategies, and will be supported in establishing a market information system that they will own and manage. Financial assistance will be provided for improving processing technologies and farming systems. The programme will help build roads and other infrastructure to help farmers and processors get their products to markets. It will also work with the National Microfinance Support Project, which is funded by IFAD and the Government, to improve farmers’ access to financial services that enable them to save and borrow.

Special attention will be given to the needs of women. Two thirds of the programme’s roots and tuber development fund will finance women’s needs. Women will account for at least two thirds of the farmer organization management teams that the programme will establish. The programme will operate in eight of Cameroon’s 10 provinces, and reach about 600,000 households.

With this programme, IFAD will have financed six projects in the Republic of Cameroon for a total loan amount of USD 69,750,000 million.

IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. Since 1978, IFAD has financed 625 projects in 115 countries and in the West Bank and Gaza for a total commitment of approximately USD 7.9 billion in loans and grants. Through these projects, about 250 million rural people have been supported in their efforts to overcome poverty.