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Economy - Development | Agriculture - Nutrition

Cameroonian roots and tubers producers promoted

afrol News, 23 July - Roots and tuber farmers in Cameroon are to get better market access through a new development programme, which focuses on organising the poor staple food producers. Farmers are to increase their market and marketing skills.

Small producers of roots and tuber crops in Cameroon, who are mostly women, are expected to benefit from a US$ 21.7 million programme that is to 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 government of Cameroon. The loan agreement was signed today at IFAD headquarters in rome by Michael Tabong Kima, Cameroonian Ambassador to Italy, and the IFAD President, Mr Lennart Båge.

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

Poor organisations among farmers and lack of access to market information and opportunities have prevented small farmers from marketing their products effectively, according to a report by IFAD.

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

The programme was said to enable farmers to better organise 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," IFAD reports.

Financial assistance was to be provided for improving processing technologies and farming systems. The programme further was said to "help build roads and other infrastructure to help farmers and processors get their products to markets."

Finally, it would also work with the National Microfinance Support Project, which is funded by IFAD and the Cameroonian government, "to improve farmers' access to financial services that enable them to save and borrow."

According to IFAD, special attention would be given to the needs of women. Two thirds of the programme's roots and tuber development fund were to finance women's needs.

- Women will account for at least two thirds of the farmer organisation management teams that the programme will establish, the IFAD statement said. The programme was to operate in eight of Cameroon's 10 provinces, and reach about 600,000 households.

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