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PENJA, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - Andrew Kombe in Penja village happily combs his 4-hectare Penja Pepper farm, discarding unwanted weeds and clipping off parasitic plants. For the 49-year-old farmer, the health and quality of his new climate-friendly crop are of prime importance following a disappointing slump in prices of the traditional cash crop in the area, coffee, and cocoa, blamed partly on extreme weather.

“I have to work hard to reap good yields and make maximum gains from my new crop,” he PAMACC News Agency.

Coffee and Cocoa farmers across Cameroon say they have been facing a bleak future, amid heavy rains and biting drought that has taken its toll on these traditional cash crops and reverse the gains since 2013.
For the past five years, Kombe and his family have incurred pain and hardship due to dwindling harvest and income from his coffee farm. Not anymore.

The farmers say the special white and black pepper dubbed Penja Pepper, a more extreme climate-tolerant cash crop is holding out the hope of much-needed relief for thousands of farmers in the region.

“We are left with no choice than switch to Penja Pepper. Now with the Pepper farming, I can raise enough money to feed my family and send my kids to school,” Kombe says.

Afraid of continuously reaping poor harvests and paltry income from coffee and cocoa, many more farmers in Penja and neighboring villages both in the Southwest and Littoral regions in Cameroon are increasingly switching to the more paying, reliable and climate-friendly Penja Pepper agriculture officials say.

“The farmers now prefer to concentrate their efforts on Penja Pepper that thrives well in the region,” says Amos Ngolle, agriculture technician at the divisional delegation of agriculture in the Moungo division.

Grown on the flanks of the Kupemuanenguba Mountain, the Penja Pepper has since gained national and international fame after the Penja Pepper Farmers Association, PPFA, with support from French Development Agency, sought and obtained in 2013 the certification of their product from the African Intellectually Property Organization.

Farmers of the association say the certification has significantly transformed their lives and the economy of the region, attracting other farmers whose traditional cash crops are threatened by extreme weather.

“Growing Penja Pepper has now become the attraction of farmers in the region,” says Emmanuel Nzenewo, PPFA Executive Secretary.

The farmers blame the cyclical uncertainties on coffee and cocoa not only to climate but also to pests and diseases that are bringing heavy losses.

Losses from diseases and pests claimed between 30 and 40 percent of Cameroon´s harvest in the 2014-15 season, according to the National

Cocoa and Coffee Board, which regulates cocoa and coffee production.

A slump of more than one third in the prices paid for both coffee and cocoa beans by exporters, following a downward trend in prices on the international market in the past two years has made the situation of farmers even more perilous.
According to government data, coffee yields for the 2015-2016 season stood at just over 16,000 tons, down from above 38,000 tons in 2009-2010.

A kilo of cocoa beans fetches about 900-960 FCA francs ($1.50 to $1.65) in production areas, down from 1,600 francs in 2012-13.
In some remote areas prices are as low as 700 francs and the farmers fear it will fall even further.

“ We fear the prices will decline even further in the years ahead as climate threats worsen and this is bad news for small-scale farmers like myself,” says Ajong Cletus, one of the few cocoa farmers in Penja still holding on to the crop.

Though the government is struggling to encourage cocoa and coffee farmers to stay on their crop, they are also promoting the growth of the new cash crop, Penja Pepper.

Since the certification, the price of the cooking spice has sky-rocketed, from 2,500 fcfa per kilogram before September 2013 to reach 8,000fcfa per kilogram in 2014, and 14,000 per kilogram in 2015/2016, according to the ministry of trade.

The farmers say the price is encouraging, motivating them to work even harder.

“Because of the encouraging price per kilo, I have expanded my farm from 8hectares(20 acres) in 2012 to  12 hectares (30 acres) of the crop presently, thus producing and earning 50% more than what I got before certification of the product,” says Garbielle Elung, one of the farmers in Penja. The certification according to the farmers mean the product has been protected from imitation, thus guaranteeing its long term future.

The Penja Pepper production zone has so far increased from Penja village to include neigbouring villages like Loum, Manjo, Mbanga, Njombé-Penja and Tombel subdivisions in the Moungo and Kupe Muanenguba Divisions.

The Penja Pepper grown in the rich volcanic soils in the area experts say is resistant to extreme weather, both prolonged rains and droughts maintaining its unadulterated, special white and black colour and attractive flavor at all season.

The region’s natural micro-climate and location at the flanks of Mt. Kupemuanenguba according to agriculture experts protect the product from pest attack and provides for the pepper’s(spice) unique taste, attracting increasing demand in the national, regional and international markets. Thus the need and battle to protect the product against imitation.

.“The rich volcanic soil of Mt. Kupemuanenguba has given the pepper a soft and refined flavor and aroma that will appeal to anyone that loves good cuisine,” says Bernard Njonga, executive officer of ACDIC(Association Citoyenne de Défense des Intérêts Collectifs) an NGO that defends the rights of farmers in Cameroon

According to Emmanuel Nzenowo, executive secretary of the association, thanks to the successful certification, production reached 300 t in 2015 and 350 t in 2016 in response to growing demand from high class restaurants around the world. Prior to this, production was less than 150 t.

Approximately 60% of the product is consumed locally and in neighbouring countries, and 40% is exported to European markets according to Cameroon’s ministry of trade. The Penja Pepper is one of the only three African commodities, which also includes Oku honey from Cameroon and ZiamaMacenta coffee from Guinea, to be given such a label, prohibiting the product’s name from being used by producers outside of its original region.

With the label, Emmanuel Nzenowo says, adherence to strict guidelines by the farmers is ensured to maintain highest standards.

“Guideline rules include ensuring farmers are situated within mapped out perimeters by the association, accepting the norms and code of conduct set out by the association, protecting the crop against extreme climate and regular inspection by a team of PPFA members,” he explained. “This has contributed to the continuously improved quality of the product,” he says.  

Statistics from the ministry of the economy, planning and regional economy shows that the product with added value is today highly consumed in France, Switzerland, Germany and many other countries in Europe, not forgetting the 16 member states of OAPI including Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Senegal.   

In a desperate move to encourage farmers to stay on in coffee and cocoa production, the government has decided to half its levy on cocoa exports to boost revenues for farmers and exporters.

The government reduced the cocoa export charge rate by 50 percent, from 150 CFA francs ($0.27) to 75 CFA francs per kilogram, as from August 1, 2017, the Minister of trade Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana announced.

“This decision is a change in government policy to encourage farmers and avoid a drastic decline in cocoa and coffee production,” the minister said.

This article first appeared on the PAMACC website

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance has undertaken the second series of training on Natural Resource Management (NRM), Adaptation to Climate Change and Agricultural Development in Embu County.

The training, which is part of the ongoing UKAM/Trocaire funded Community resilience and climate change adaptation project, was held at Ishiara Parish in Embu County on Wednesday (September 27th) and drew 41 participants from various sub-locations and community natural resource management groups.

The project is part of the deliberate effort to boost the resilience of vulnerable communities in three drought-affected semi-arid counties - Kitui, Tharaka-Nithi and Embu – which are threatened by the impacts of climate change.

Most of the participants in the training were smallholder farmers who also practice beekeeping and charcoal production.

Speaking after the training, Project Coordinator Obed Koringo said that the participants were adequately trained on the causes and impacts of climate change as it relates to the livelihood of the community. 

“The training provided the participants with the relevant skills and knowledge to tackle the negative impacts of climate change and harness the opportunities therein,” he said.

He noted that the training, which was conducted in the local language to facilitate understanding, also accorded the participants the platform to exchange knowledge and lessons learned.

The farmers were trained in the following:

  • Climate-Sensitive Agricultural production techniques
  • Post-harvest management
  • Integrated soil fertility improvement
  • Crop diversification
  • Land preparation technologies
  • Integrated water resources management best practices
  • Sustainable land use practices.


They were also trained on existing global and national climate change adaptation policies and frameworks and provided with integrated knowledge and skills that would enable them to shift toward sustainable agricultural practices.

The trainers strongly emphasized on the use of locally available materials and the farmers gained new knowledge on crop verities selection and diversification, farmland preparation, soil fertility improvement techniques, farm and household level water management and sustainable land use techniques.

At the end of the training, participants appreciated the new knowledge and skills gained through PACJA’s intervention. They committed to integrating the new knowledge into their farming practices and sharing their new knowledge with their respective communities. In so doing, they developed action plans and clearly highlighted how they hoped to achieve the same. Meanwhile, similar training was also undertaken in Mwingi, Kitui County.


 Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) Secretary General Mithika Mwenda has lauded United Nations Environment for the positive changes it has made since the elevation of the UNEP into a fully-fledged agency of the UN during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

 Mr Mwenda noted that PACJA has enjoyed a cordial working relationship with the Regional Office for Africa, adding that the relationship is now anchored in a memorandum of understanding where they have elaborated on key areas where they can add value to each other.

“This is incredibly laudable, and this should be a lesson which we would like to share with other CSOs. We don’t lament but work in the spirit of constructive engagement. Where we differ, we have laid down procedures for dispute resolution – but I can’t remember an incidence that took us to this level,” he said in a statement read on his behalf by Lisa Kamau.

“PACJA’s example is an illustration of how we can work with UNEP to do what the civil society is known for – policy influence. Through this partnership, we have been able to greatly influence climate change and broader environmental policies under the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). PACJA has emerged as one of the most influential and visible environmental and sustainable platforms in Africa and globally,” he further stated.

His statement was read during a briefing workshop for NGOs on Engagement with UN Environment Assembly on Monday, September 25.

The meeting was co-organised by UNEP, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Transparency International and the National Council of NGOs and brought together NGOs, CSOs, and CBOs from across the country.



Civil Society Organisations have been encouraged to see Africa’s problems as opportunities to create value and jobs.

Speaking during the briefing workshop for NGOs on Engagement with UN Environment Assembly, UN Environment Regional Information Officer for Africa Mohamed Atani said finding solutions to Africa’s problems could lead to the creation of jobs.

He noted that pollution is viewed as being bad for the environment but good for business, but challenged workshop participants to find ways of fighting pollution such as waste management, which he said could bring revenues. 

“Other people come to Africa and see these opportunities and invest while we who are here do nothing about them,” he noted.

The information Officer further noted that conflict in Africa is brought about by the desire to access and control natural resources, adding that we as Africans don’t hate each other. 

“In Africa we have conflict because we want access and control of natural resources,” he stated.

Speaking during the same meeting, Dr Alice Oluoko from the University of Nairobi noted that Pollution has become a global pandemic, adding that we all must stand up against it for a sustainable world. 

She added that Civil Society Oganisations have a voice that can influence the future stability of the society.

“CSOs have a voice that shapes, moves, and causes change and we must use this voice for the future stability of our societies,” she stated.

On his part, Mr Innocent Maloba from WWF International encouraged CSOs to speak up whenever they see the destruction of the environment, adding that authorities will then take over from there and halt the destruction.

The meeting was held at the UN Offices in Nairobi and attended by NGOs, CBOs and CSOs from across the country.


Civil Society Organisations have been encouraged to shift focus to matters of environment to ensure they are actively engaged in discussions on the same in the country.

Speaking during a briefing workshop for NGOs and CSOs on Engagement with UN Environment Assembly that was organized by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, Transparency International, UNEP, Friedrich Ebert Stifftung, and the NGO Council, Dr Alice Oluoko-Odingo said it is important for CSOs to have someone responsible for environment issues in their organiations.

We can have an environmental parliament in Kenya for CSOs so that we can articulate our issues so as to influence the agenda,” she said.

“It is time CSOs take environmental issues seriously and give a small budget towards the same,” she added.

The University of Nairobi Lecturer encouraged CSOs to be represented in UN Environment meetings by people who understand the science and language of the discussions, saying such meetings are usually highly technical and scientific.

“Meetings in UN Environment are scientific and those brought here should understand the context, discussions, and way forward. We need to build capacity among ourselves. UN Environment doesn’t give finances but they can give capacity building training,” she noted.

 She added that we need science more than before to carry out our operations and urged the organisations operating at the grassroots to take the knowledge to the grassroots and ensure the population incorporates best practices.

The meeting that was held at the United Nations office in Nairobi on Monday brought together civil society organisations and community-based organisations from across the country.

The objective of the meeting was to build the capacity of local NGOs and CSOs to engage with UN Environment.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance last week held a training on Natural resource management (NRM), adaptation to climate change and agricultural development at Marimanti County Lodge in Tharaka Nithi County.

The one-day training covered topics such as Climate Sensitive Agricultural production techniques, post-harvest management, integrated soil fertility improvement, crop diversification, land preparation technologies, integrated water resources management best practices as well as sustainable land use practices.

The 45 participants drawn from four Sub-locations in Tharaka Nithi County were satisfactorily trained on the causes and impacts of climate change as it relates to the livelihood of the community, providing them with strategies to tackle the negative impacts of climate and harness the opportunities it presents.  

“The participants, who were largely smallholder farmers, were made aware of unsustainable farming and natural resource management practices that contribute to climate change, food insecurity, and resource depletion,” explained PACJA’s David Mulba, adding that they were provided with new skills and ideas that would enable them to shift away from unsustainable practices.

He noted that they gained adequate new knowledge on crop verities selection and diversification, farmland preparation, soil fertile improvement techniques, farm and household level water management and sustainable land use techniques.

The training was the second in its series in the county and is part of the UKAM/Trocaire funded Community resilience and climate change adaptation project that seeks to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities in three drought-affected semi-arid Counties in Eastern Kenya (Kitui, Tharaka-Nithi and Embu County) to the impact of shocks and stresses related to climate change.

The participants appreciated the new knowledge and skills gained. They noted that the training impacted them directly. They committed to integrate the new knowledge into their farming practices and sharing their new knowledge with their respective communities. In so doing, they developed action plans and clearly highlighted how they hope to achieve the same.

 The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance on Friday last week organized a successful workshop that brought together 30 participants from pastoralist communities, CSOs, government and the private sector to discuss and share experiences on promoting climate resilient pastoralism in Kenya. 

The workshop sought to arrive at a common approach to achieving resilience in order to manage the risks posed by climate variation and change.

During the workshop participants shared tools, methods, and approaches to enhance learning and innovative ways to implement Community Based Adaptation, DRM, sustainable development and climate information services that they could incorporate into their lives and work to improve livelihoods of pastoralist communities.

The workshop focused on five thematic areas including promoting multi stakeholder interactions, governance, and policy, promoting community ownership and aspirations, risk management, and climate resilient investments in pastoralist areas.

Pastoralists in Kenya are among the most vulnerable to climate change variability with droughts in East Africa becoming more severe and frequent while less predictable.

According to the Kenya Meteorological Department, even the much anticipated March-April-May rains did very poorly across the country, most parts of the country experiencing below normal rainfall with areas remaining sunny and dry throughout the month of March 2017. 

“Due to this increasing vulnerability, pastoralists need to be supported not only to maintain the extraordinary resilience inherent in their traditional way of life, but also to adapt and – for some – to create viable alternative livelihoods in and beyond the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs), which increase the adaptive capacity and build resilience of pastoralist communities,” noted the Julius Karanja, a project assistant with PACJA who organized the workshop. 

The necessary support is in the form of climate information and products, agro-advisory services, as well as support to enhance and utilize their indigenous knowledge.

 The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance last week visited three organizations in Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, and Madagascar to assess their challenges and build their capacity in the identified areas of weakness in the REDD+ project.

The organisations, which include ISD-Ethiopia, AFHON-Cote d’Ivoire, and Gasy Youth UP-Madagascar, are beneficiaries of a two-year project that is being implemented by PACJA and supported by the Forest Carbon Partnership facility (FCPF) that is aimed at building the capacity of African Civil Society and Local Communities on REDD+. The project is also implemented by ORAM in Mozambique and ED/ADCF in Togo.

For these organizations to be able to implement the sub projects satisfactorily, they need to have the necessary technical and financial capacity. 

“One of PACJA’s roles is to build the capacity of the beneficiary organizations and support them in areas of weakness so as to ensure they implement the sub project satisfactorily, within the set time lines while achieving the set objectives,” noted project officer Obed Koringo who accompanied finance officer Alex Maingi in the visit.

Mr Koringo added that the visit was geared towards assessing the challenges facing the beneficiary organizations in the three countries and coming up with solutions to enable them to implement the sub-projects and achieve the set objectives. The team is also planning to visit Togo and Mozambique before the end of the year.


The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance in conjunction with CARE International on Wednesday (August 30th, 2017) organized a webinar to shed light on the engagement of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Green Climate Fund Project that is currently being implemented in five African countries.

During the webinar, Sven Harmeling of CARE International stressed the importance for CSOs to understand how the project works saying: "There is limited knowledge on GCF and a need for better information flow from authorities in regard to this. Different stakeholders need to work together in preparing for GCF opportunities.”

Sven noted that there are opportunities to develop more proposals and act jointly across different countries through existing networks to build interest and engagement in the GCF project.

He explained that it is important to link all interested parties on the GCF platform to actively share experiences and knowledge to improve initiatives and learn from each other at national level between CSOs and governments

Speaking at the same time, Emmanuel Seck from Ghana briefed the meeting about a workshop in Abidjan that was held in May 26-28, 2017 and attended by 25 participants. 

The meeting attendees recommended that existing knowledge and experience on GCF be shared among participants, adding that this provides an opportunity for participants to learn from each other.

They further recommended that there is need to build the capacity of CSOs to engage in the GCF project through national and international networking and increasing accreditation of CSOs to GCF for better advocacy and lobbying.

"There is a need for consultation with CSOs and local authorities to improve national dialogue and to improve the discussion with the private sector at the national level.  Consolidating existing networks,” he noted. 

Julius Ng’oma from ISONECC briefed the participants about a meeting organised in Malawi that he says was attended by Government, development partners, and CSOs. 

He noted that his organisation has done capacity building for CSOs through a series of workshops on climate finance and specifically GCF.

Speaking in the same forum, Peter from CARE Ghana said that his organization has appointed two NIEs namely Eco Bank and a semi-autonomous public institution, adding that three proposals are in the pipeline.

“Processes and procedures are in place with a technical advisory committee present with different stakeholders’ representatives on it. Ghana has worked through an existing network of SDG 13 platform with involvement from all stakeholders. There are a number of ongoing meetings to discuss the GCF,” he said.

He explained that they noticed that sharing information improved stakeholder involvement, adding that it was challenging to find the best way to share the information and how to start dialogue with the government.

“Monitoring the government’s intention to spend GCF money and improving on how CSOs can access this money is of interest,” he noted. 

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