No. 29 How Cameroon farmers use the rainforest
By Gaston Bityo Delor | Newsletter No. 29 December 2011

Editor's note

We know that rainforests store carbon and have great biodiversity that benefits us all in many ways, for example as a source of medicines.  And the forests cycle water thus preventing floods and making rain. But for the people who live there the forests meet their immediate needs and are essential for their survival. 

In Cameroon the rainforests are threatened by logging, slash and burn farming and a proposed 70,000 hectare oil palm plantation. I asked our Cameroon partner, Gaston Bityo Delor, to tell us more specifically how the local people use the forest, so that we can better understand why they need it. Here is his reply, in his own words. English is his third language, after his native Bulu and French.

Best regards, 


Tiiu-Imbi Miller, Mrs., 
The Rainforest Saver Foundation 
Scottish registered charity no. SC039007 

+44 (0) 131 477 6970

‘'How farmers use the forest in Cameroon''
by Gaston Bityo Delor

Ninety five per cent (95%) of Cameroonians are farmers and live in remote rural areas, very far away from big cities.  The President of the Republic, Head of State, Mr. Paul BIYA during his speech at the Ebolowa Conference in January 2011 said (quote): ‘'We are all sons of farmers''.  The lives of Cameroonians depend a lot on agriculture and forests. 
As sons of farmers, they get everything from the forest: food; medicine; material for shelter; clothes, water, incomes (selling food and tourism)...

1-   Food:

There are many tree species in the forest which fruits are used for food like (local names): Ezang or Njansan, Ndo'o, Mvut, Ekom, Komon, Fan, Ngon, Engokom, Omvoé....We call them Non Wood Forest Product (NWFP). 
Before the Inga project, VSD [Editor's note: Volunteers Serving Development, the small NGO created by Gaston to help the poor in Cameroon] had a project on Ezang and Ndo'o (food and spices) to train famers (most of them woman) on how to produce (transform) these forest products and help them to sell them in the market.

bizang fruit

Forest products: Ezang fruit for sale

These forest products are very useful especially in dry season when there is almost no food from the farms. 

2-   Medicine:

Farmers get also medicine from forest. Because of poverty, no money to go to hospital, they use local medicines. 
Ekuk (bark) and Obaé Eton (bark, fruits and roots) Mfo (bark), Ebam (bark and fruits) to heal Malaria and fever
Asseng (bark) to help a mother when nursing a baby
Abangak to heal injuries
Ezang and Mbe (barks) to heal anaemia


3-   Material for shelters:

Abang (wood) for posts and beams, Bibolo (wood), Eyen (wood), Zam (leaves ) for roof, Ayos (barks) for wall, etc...

4-   Clothes

Abang and ayos (barks)

5-   Water; 

There are ropes in the forest when you are thirsty in the forest, just cut them and drink the water inside

6-   Incomes:

Farmers used to sell products from the forest to get some money to send their children in schools or buy them more beautiful clothes in the markets.
Tourists also visit the forest in villages and pay for services giving some money to farmers to send their children to school and do other useful things for their life.
From the following, we all agree that the life of these rural people depends a lot on the forest. If the forest disappears, they all will die. 

Thanks to the Inga project that enables us to protect our forest

Mefou Forest primate reserve

Cameroon rainforest at the Mefou primate sanctuary near Yaoundé. Photo by Tiiu Miller 2010.  Spot the chimp.

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