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Bakas Included In Non-timber Products Market Chain 

By Daniel Gwarbarah

The Baka people (pygmy community) of Djoum, Mintom and Oveng in the South Region of Cameroon, have been incorporated in the market chain of non-timber forest products.

This is thanks to restructuring efforts by the Netherlands Development Organisation, SNV, and sensitisation by a Mbalmayo based community radio station. This information was disclosed to the media by a Senior Advisor of SNV Cameroon, Arend Vander GOES, on August 9 in Yaounde during celebrations marking this year’s World Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The day, which was celebrated in Cameroon for the second time, was presided at by Social Affairs Minister, Catherine Bakang Mbock. The theme of the celebration was: "marginalised populations, diversities and cultural riches: advantages for development in a globalize world."
The SNV Advisor, Arend said the pygmies depend wholly on the forest for their livelihood.

He said, in order to get them out of poverty, SNV has been working with Baka Associations that, today, serve as suppliers of non-timber forest products such bush mango, njansang, mushroom, etc, to markets in and out of Cameroon. Arend held that through the venture, the living standard of the Bakas is being gradually improved. The SNV Senior Advisor stated that they are successfully working with the Bakas because they (Bakas) discovered that the venture was lucrative and directly touching on their culture. He said members of the associations are more serious as some have seen their incomes increased by as much as 30 percent.

One of the members of the Baka Associations, Etienne Mopolo, who had an exhibition stand at the ceremonial ground, told journalists that since they started working with SNV and coupled with a training workshop on the marketing of non-timber forest products, their lifestyle has changed positively. He said members of the associations now supply their products at better prices to wholesalers.

Calling for continuous support from SNV, Mopolo stated that income from sales is helping them to educate their children, pay for health services, acquire clothing as well as setting up improved habitats. He said their involvement in the market chain is beneficial to them for they would be sure of regular supplies at affordable prices.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by SNV indicates that non-timber forest products contribute about 30 to 100 percent of annual household incomes. The Post gathered that SNV was the first organisation to realise that the Baka were the largest producers of non-timber forest products accounting for over 70 percent of production, while Nigeria was by far the biggest market with roughly 80 percent of the market share and desperately demanding more.

"In fact, approximately 85 percent of all bush products sold by the Baka end up in Nigeria," an SNV information leaflet states. It states further that, thanks to market information systems through community radios, "the Baka were able to sell 600 kg of bush mango for about FCFA 600,000.

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