By Tata Mbunwe
Farmers’ cooperatives in Cameroon’s South-West region are emerging from local production of forest nuts to transforming and packaging them for both household and medicinal use.
“We are trying to say that people should learn to consume our own products, instead of importing things from outside,” says Celine Naya Lekunze, member of a women’s cooperative based in Wabane, Lebialem Division.
During celebrations of the International Day of Cooperatives held in Buea on Saturday, cooperative groups from some divisions of the region showcased several brands of products derived from processed forest nuts and herbs.
Among such cooperatives was the Manyu Women’s Cooperative who displayed at least six brands of products, including medicinal recipes, produced by combining different forest nuts and herbs.
One of their products, the “Wonder Sweet,” they believe, can relieve cough, backpain, waist and chest pains, and can boost sexual viability.
Stating that they lack necessary equipment to process and package their products, the Cooperative group appealed to the Southwest regional delegation for agriculture for packaging equipment.
The Dikome Rumpi Hills Tea Farmers Cooperative is another group of farmers who are transforming local products.
They produce and packege the “Dikome Tea”. The tea is grown, dried and packaged locally and, according to Sakwe Njomo Bekabe, a representative of the Cooperative, they are moving towards a bigger tea industry if they are provided financial support.
“Dikome Tea” is grown in Ndian Division of the South West region by individual farmers who grouped themselves into a Cooperative society which processes, packages and markets the product.
According to Sakwe Njomo, who spoke on behalf of the Cooperative, “Dikome Tea” works for heart diseases and is a stress reliever.
The South-West region of Cameroon, on Saturday, joined the world to celebrate the 99th edition of International Day of Cooperatives under the theme: “Rebuild Better Together”.
Celebrated yearly on every first Saturday of July, the day stresses the importance of Cooperatives to farmers, and emphasizes the need for collective farming, says Cooperative Management Expert, Albert Makia.
During Saturday’s commemoration in Buea, the South-West delegate for agriculture, Jackson Ntapi, urged farmers in the region to group themselves into cooperatives so as to easily secure Government funding for their activities.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, MINADER, promised to support these emerging local enterprises with transformation and packaging equipment, throught the ACEFA and AIVDP programmes meant to support agriculture.
MINADER also doled out dozens of farm inputs to some cooperatives based in Meme Division of the South West.