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Cameroonian Agro-Forestry Centre Wins FCFA 2.5m UN Prize 

By Franca Sulem (UY1 Student On Internship)

The United Nations Development Programme, UNDP and its partners, have awarded the Equator Prize, worth 5,000 US dollars (about FCFA 2.5 million), to the Riba Agro-forestry Resource Centre (RARC).

The Yaounde Hilton Hotel, April 12, hosted the official award ceremony, almost eight months after RARC’s Coordinator; George Kangong, initially received the prize on September 20, 2010, in New York. This Agro-forestry centre was one of the 25 finalists chosen from a group of 270 nominees from 66 nations. 

"The increased interest for the protection of the environment is worth hailing. Concerted action is required for us to protect our environment and Government needs to collaborate with NGOs and organisations involved, to realise this," stated Pierre Hele, Minister of the Environment and Nature Protection, MINEP, before handing the prize over to Kangong.

Going by documents, the Equator Prize has, since 2002, been awarded to communities which have made strides in poverty alleviation through biodiversity conservation. The Equator Initiative is the brainchild of an alliance between the UN, civil society groups, enterprises, governments and communities. The prize is given every two years, mainly to salute the efforts of key actors in the struggle to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.

Kangong, in a presentation, described RARC as an initiative managed by the Riba farm and forestry club, which aims at improving food security and curbing poverty through services in agro-forestry, income-generating activities and environmental education.

He said RARC hopes to help rural people raise their living standards through a more sustainable use of natural resources. They equally intend to endow the people with a better understanding of the value of agro-forestry, improve agro-forestry skills among farmers, ensure better management of water catchments areas and increased productivity of livelihood systems and balanced nutrition.

He added that the centre, which was initiated by ICRAF that developed the concept of resource centres, is located in Kishiy, 120 km from Bamenda in the Northwest Region. According to Zac Tchoundjeu, Director of the World Agro-forestry Centre, 150 centres have been created in different countries to assist farmers with technical know-how, especially on tree domestication. This, he said, will favour a friendlier eco-system that will be favourable to both plants and animals.

A message by the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System, presented by Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye Faty, states: "The impacts of Riba Agro-forestry Resources Centre’s actions on biodiversity have been considerable. The rehabilitation of degraded soils by agro-forestry has improved the vegetal coverage".

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