15 Apr 2012

“Permaculture” Improving Livelihoods of Young People in Cameroon

Better World Cameroon is engaging with NWADO through a Community Gardening project called Permaculture (permanent  agriculture)  practice and change of lifestyles. This involves designing modules developed in Ndanifor Community Garden in Yaounde for replication in the North West Region (NWR)through Better World Bamenda supported by Ndanifor Gardens UK Trust (NGUKT), Charity registered in Newcastle.

Through NGUKT Better World has  “trainers of trainers” of Permaculture trained in the Fambidzanai Permaculture Trainer Center in Zimbabwe and Certified by the International Permaculture Convergence which held in Malawi in November, 2009.

Need for introduction of Permaculture in the NWR
There is a crisis in farming, as small and medium scale farms continue to go out of business in the North West Region. The average age of farmers is increasing and farm incomes are decreasing. The phenomenon of “Land Graps” ( buying of agric lands by multinationals) not for increasing agriculture business but for feeding American cars and growing populations in emerging nations like China. Introduction of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and invading alien species calls for action research that will tell the stories in the NWR, pool existing experience, analyze the strategic context, and decide what we want for the practical future of food sovereignty and farmland trusteeship in the region and how to implement this.

Farmers are often isolated in fragmented communities and the costs of owning farmlands and buy improved seeds prevents entry to young farmers. Many have the skills and motivation but little capital.
At the same time, the demand for good locally grown food increases and young people want to reconnect with local farms and build sustainable rural communities.



Better World Bamenda Capacity Building Programme
The youth, children and women will be trained on afforestation techniques and sustainable agriculture to make them useful now and the future by enabling them to become self-reliant. Income from farm produce will be used to buy didactic materials for the orphanage.
100 young people from schools, women's groups and churches will be trained each year and 10 small production units of accompanying trainees in: poultry, piggery, snail farm, mushroom, vegetable garden, fruit orchard, bee hives will be constructed each year. Graduates will be accompanied to start up their businesses.

Activities: composting, construction of raised beds, seed multiplication, grafting,  water harvesting, market gardening, landscape management, environmental education in schools, visit to other sustainable agriculture projects in the region, hosting of climate, cross-culture education work-camp and open day farm days. Permaculture training focused  sustainable food production will be based on allotments, school and community gardens, planting productive native trees, spices and orchards.

Volunteers are an integral part of the God is Great Initiative; without them the orphanage will be critically understaffed and unable to achieve its mission. One of its main tasks therefore is to effectively manage volunteers to ensure they an effective and valuable resource.

In the last couple  of months, BWC Coordinator has spent time in the region working with the Bafut Council, NWADO and the orphanage in making sure it is well marketed, defining new way forward, mission and target communities. The mission of the coordinator in the region was to make BWB, local councils and NWADO members know the new direction and participate in the formulation of the operational plan for the region to make sure it meets beneficiaries needs and offers tailor made sustainable services to the community.

From now on BWB will spread e-learning soft skills aimed at supporting children education through technology and helping rural communities move out of poverty.

Expected results of providing Permaculture Design Courses to NWADO Farmers in the agriculture thematic group
Better World Bamenda expects to see a range of expected outcomes as a result of working with the network.
Together with members, we will find out better ways for local councils and farming communities to avoid bush fires, determine land use, urban planning and Eco-building.
We will determine new mechanisms for enabling young entrant farmers to access permanently owned farms and new farming techniques.
We will mobilize communities for new organizational structures for farming groups.
We will look for new ways of raising working capital, financial and technical support.
We will increase local involvement and cooperation with other farmers on the continent and social enterprise businesses.
We will develop local food economies-getting a higher and a fairer return for farm products.
We will improve biodiversity conservation and make farms accessible to the public.
We will increase access of farms to education, employment and leisure (eco-tourism).
We will help build community capacity trust, social inclusion and networking within NWADO.
At the end of the action research, we will produce action packs in order to get all NWADO members involved and encourage replication of our module anywhere else.


Joshua Konankoh
Business and Partnership Director; Better World Cameroon
*You can contribute to this reflection through NWADO or contact author: