Cameroon: First US$ 20mln project approved to support transition to deforestation-free agroecological practices

The initiative will be implemented by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development in collaboration with Cameroon’s Coffee and Cocoa Development Fund.

YAONDE, July 4, 2024 – A first US$20 million project funded by the Central Africa Forest Initiative [CAFI] will support Cameroon’s small-scale cocoa and coffee producers adapt to the new European Union [EU] regulations so that they continue exporting to the EU while they transition to deforestation-free agroecological practices based on sustainable principles.

The initiative will be implemented by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development [IFAD] in collaboration with Cameroon’s Coffee and Cocoa Development Fund [‘FODECC’ in French], a unique funding tool created by Cameroon to support small-scale producers in their agro-ecological coffee and cocoa production.

Although regarded as a major step in the global fight against deforestation, the new European Union Regulation on Deforestation-free Products [EUDR], which took effect in June 2023, introduces some requirements, such as the prohibition of imports to the EU market of commodities that were produced illegally, particularly those from land deforested after December 31, 2020, or those that are not traceable.  Geolocation transparency requirements are among the most challenging demands for smallholder farmers, representing the vast majority of Cameroon’s 700,000 coffee and cocoa producers. The project will tackle their disadvantage in relation to larger farms.

FODECC currently manages a direct funding mechanism for cocoa and coffee producers called ‘Guichet Producteurs’. With an annual funding of 12 million euros coming from Cameroon’s national resources through a national levy on cocoa and coffee exports, FODECC has already enrolled 223,000 small-scale producers in Cameroon. They receive subsidies to manage the sustainable intensification of their production. The Fund has also enabled geolocation of plots.

FODECC’s ‘Guichet Producteurs’ aims to reach 300,000 producers enrolled in the Fund by 2025. Cameroon’s Government aims to ultimately support all 700,000 producers dependent on cocoa and coffee exports to Europe, supporting 2.7 million Cameroonian households relying on agriculture, as they transition to deforestation-free agroecological practices. Cameroon is the 5th largest cocoa and major coffee producer worldwide.

MINEPAT leading partnership with CAFI

The Ministry of Economy, Planning and Land Planning of Cameroon [MINEPAT] leads the Cameroon-CAFI partnership. According to M. Ernest Nnanga, Head of the Prospection and Strategic Planning Division of MINEPAT, “We have worked closely with sectorial ministries, the CAFI Secretariat and the implementing organizations we have selected together to design robust projects. We are convinced that, for this specific project with IFAD to support FODECC as well as in partnership with CAFI as a whole, we have the potential to have a major impact on promoting sustainable agriculture and helping millions of producers in Cameroon.”

Speaking on behalf of the CAFI Executive Board, Maggie Charnley, Head of the International Forest Unit for the UK government [CAFI’s current Chair] said: “CAFI is thrilled with this major step in the partnership with Cameroon, and that the first large project that we approved supports the innovation already coming from within the country through FODECC.”

IFAD executing the project with FODECC

IFAD, the only UN specialized agency focusing on rural development exclusively, was selected as implementing partner thanks to its unique ability and expertise as International Financial Institution, following a competitive Call for Expressions of Interest launched by MINEPAT and CAFI .

“The cooperation between partners allows us to support Cameroonian coffee and cocoa producers so that they can increase their income, notably by improving their productivity. This will contribute to creating a new generation of farmers, as well as building resilient rural communities to climate change, while working towards forest protection and improving the livelihoods of Cameroonian coffee and cocoa producers,” said Bernard Hien, Regional Director for West and Central Africa at IFAD.

The partnership with IFAD demonstrates development partners appetite for country-led approaches with new types of sustainability-focused models that drive economic development.

“FODECC warmly welcomes this new support of CAFI and IFAD. Together, we need to ensure that the success we have already seen with our coffee and cocoa farmers can be scaled up to help even more Cameroonians in the coming years, and that we can better meet EUDR requirements. With this first project, we hope to lay the foundations for a longer-term collaboration: for positive outcomes for our country’s farmers and for the work between FODECC and CAFI,” added FODECC Administrator Dr. Samuel Donatien Nengue.

Scaling up sustainable investments for deforestation-free agriculture

The CAFI Executive Board’s approval of this major project demonstrates tangible progress in its partnership with Cameroon. It also embodies the efforts to scale up international support for deforestation-free agriculture in Cameroon.

Furthermore, the start-up phase of this project will help monitor efficiency and effectiveness of an existing governmental subsidies programme, and lays the groundwork for scaling up, using lessons learned to adapt the approach as needed.

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