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.
ABUJA, NIGERIA (PAMACC News) - As the UN General Assembly convenes in New York, the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group calls on heads of state and government to reaffirm their pledge to tackle climate change by committing to fair and concrete climate solutions that will protect all people and the planet. The theme of this year's UN General Assembly debate - 'Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet' - is a timely and vital reminder of the importance of safeguarding a liveable world for ourselves and future generations.
Mr. Gebru Jember Endalew, Chair of the LDC Group, said: "the urgent need for serious climate action has never been clearer. Over the past months we have seen devastating events exacerbated by climate change, from deadly hurricanes and flooding, to wildfires and heatwaves. No corner of our planet is safe from climate impacts. Global temperatures have already risen 1.1°C and the frequency and severity of these events will only worsen with further warming."
"Collective commitments by the global community to date are woefully inadequate in the face of our shared challenge of climate change. Current pledges under the Paris Agreement put the world on course for 3.5°C of warming by the end of the century. This is a death sentence for many communities across the world, particularly in poor and vulnerable countries. Humanity cannot afford to delay."
"There is a widening gulf between the climate finance that is provided and mobilised and the reality of finance received and needed. Without adequate climate finance and support to developing countries, mainly LDCs and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are left without a lifeline. Many trillions of dollars are required to implement the Paris Agreement."
"The LDCs are committed to being at the frontline of the clean energy revolution. The LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative will deliver sustainable climate action and lift communities out of poverty. If we are truly to set the planet on a safe course, all countries, and particularly those who contribute the most to climate change, must follow suit. Renewable energy has the power to place us on a path to a cleaner, fairer and more prosperous world for all."
"Spread across Africa, southern Asia, the Pacific and Caribbean, the 47 LDCs all face immense challenges in adapting to climate change and addressing the loss and damage it unleashes. LDCs are taking ambitious domestic action to lead by example, and call on the rest of the world to do the same in line with their capability to respond and responsibility for the problem. State, city and business leaders from around the world have just met in New York for climate week, and the LDC Group urges leaders at the UN General Assembly to carry the conversation forward and inspire real action from all nations across the globe."
ABUJA, Nigeria (PAMACC News) - Ms Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, says Nigeria is steadfastly committed to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Orelope-Adefulire stated this at Nigeria’s side event at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly tagged: `Localising SDGs Through Partnership Innovation and Resource Mobilisation’.
The presidential aide enumerated several progress made by the various arms and tiers of the Nigerian Government to the attainment of the global goals by 2030.
The SDGs, otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
The successor programme to the Millennium Development Goals, has a set of 17 global goals with 169 targets, which implementation commenced on Jan. 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2030.
Orelope-Adefulire said: “In order to strengthen the institutional mechanism for SDGs implementation, the Presidential Council on SDGs was recently inaugurated with President Muhammadu Buhari as the Chairman.
“This signifies unwavering commitment at the highest level of Government to the Global Goals.
“The Presidential Council will provide direction and support the overall implementation of the SDGs Agenda.
“To deepen stakeholder engagement, Nigeria has already established standing committees at both the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly to provide an oversight function for SDGs implementation.
“The Private Sector Advisory Group on SDGs, as well as the Donors' Partnership Forum on SDGs, has since commenced work after their inauguration.
“Synergies are also being built with sub-national Governments to ensure that global policy translates to action at the grassroots.
“Similar partnerships are being envisaged for other groups within the Nigerian development space in order to leverage resources and mobilize the critical mass needed for the successful implementation of the SDGs”.
She said Nigeria’s affirmation of the SDGs Declaration was backed with action as government provided the leadership required to ensure the agenda delivers the intended impact without leaving anyone behind.
According to her, the SDGs align with Nigeria’s development priorities, having been integrated into its planning and budgeting frameworks through its “robust mainstreaming” into Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
“Nigeria has defined a clear path to the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda as succinctly underscored in the MDGs End-Point Report, the Country Transition Strategy on SDGs and its Implementation Plan.
“Nigeria has made significant strides in meeting data requirements needed to benchmark progress by mapping existing SDGs data and by establishing baseline statistics for more than 126 SDGs Indicators.
“In view of the magnitude of the resources needed for success, Nigeria is expanding the fiscal space for SDGs implementation.
“This is by conducting a Needs Assessment and Costing exercise in order to provide evidence for effective resourcing of the 2030 Agenda,” she said.
Orelope-Adefulire said as the world marked the second anniversary of the SDGs, it has now become urgent to scale up implementation efforts for success.
The presidential aide stated that there was no effort too great to spare in the drive to attain the SDGs.
She warned that failure to achieve the SDGs had dire consequences for the current generation and for those yet unborn.
“We are thus the generation at the threshold of history saddled with the responsibility of bringing about the change that will alter our development trajectory for the benefit of people and planet.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
US President Donald Trump continues to attract condemnation for withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, the global pact meant to reduce the impacts of climate change. Speaking during a World Bank meeting taking place in the Asian country Lao to discuss strategies to preserve global forests in developing countries, Mithika Mwenda, the Head of the Civil Society Coalition Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) said the US President’s intention is to dismantle the Agreement to suit his whims.
“We were confronted by the threat by US President Donald Trump to dismantle the Paris Agreement, apparently, putting at stake the current global outlook of climate response policies and actions, including the very REDD+ Programme which has made such strides in facilitating forest conservation and protection,’’ said Mithika on behalf of a joint statement by the Southern CSOs. In FCPF PA10, the joint statement was given by CSO Representative Asia-Pacific Kanwar Muhammad Javed Iqbal and CSO Representative Africa Mithika Mwenda. Mithika, however, expressed confidence that Trump’s lone-ranger antics will not stop the groundswell of climate action triggered by the Paris Agreement.
“As the people at the frontline of climate change impacts,” he noted, “we see President Trump’s action as an opportunity to galvanise like-minded people, governments, US Governors, the Private Sector and masses worldwide.”
The meeting was held under the auspices of the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF), a Multi-Donor Fund established to create incentives for developing countries to conserve forests as carbon sinks under the UN-sanctioned Programme, Reducing Emissions and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+).
Around 50 countries in the global South – Africa, Asia Caribbean and Latin America have received millions of Dollars in the readiness Programme, a progress of capacity building which will run until 2020. During the meeting in Lao’s town of Luang Prabang, around 20 Million US Dollars were committed to support readiness activities in several countries.