Session: Socioecological Impacts of Oil Palm Agriculture
Challenges of the oil palm sector in Cameroon and sustainable production options
Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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Raymond Ndip Nkongho, Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon, Elsa M. Ordway, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Rosamond L. Naylor, Department of Earth System Science and the Center on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, Denis Sonwa, CGIAR / CIFOR, Yaounde, Cameroon, Eric F. Lambin, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, Fideline Mboringong and Ludovic Miaro III, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Yaounde, Cameroon, Patrice Levang, CGIAR
Raymond Ndip Nkongho
Faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, University of Buea Buea, Cameroon
Background/Question/Methods The major production systems for the oil palm sector in Cameroon -- the third top producing African country -- are smallholder farms and agro-industrial plantations. Both of these systems are plagued with enormous challenges. The objective of this study was to carry out a critical analysis of the two systems of production to identify their contribution to deforestation, sustainability challenges, and possible pathways for sustainable systems of production. We carried out field studies in the different palm oil production regions located in southern Cameroon, where the majority of oil palm smallholders and agro-industrial companies are located. Data were collected, through the administration of semi-structured questionnaires, focus group discussions, secondary data sourcing, farm observation visits, and semi-guided discussions with key informants in the sector, including smallholder oil palm producers, company managers, mill managers, traders, government staff and non-governmental organization employees. We explored the historical evolution of the sector before and after Cameroon achieved independence, during a major policy reformation period, as well as the current situation facing both oil palm smallholders and agro-industrial companies. Data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Results/Conclusions Results indicate a clear need for support of farmer associations and the integration of smallholder and agro-industrial production systems, alongside concerted efforts and policies to disincentivize deforestation and harness greater social, environmental, as well as economic benefits.