Cameroon West Region Smart and Healthy Diet and food System for 2020-2050
An inclusive and smart food system that ensures an affordable and desirable foods for a Sustainable, available, safe, accessible and appeal
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Action pour un Développement Equitable, Intégré et Durable (ADEID)
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small NGO (under 50 employees)
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
West, a region of Cameroon, covers a total area of 13,892 km^2
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
The west of the country has long been called the breadbasket of Central Africa. Its cool climate and dynamic population has made this region the heart of Cameroonian agriculture.
I arrived there a few decades ago and I was hooked by its cultural richness and its social organization. So I settled there and today I’m participating in the development of this region through innovative actions that draw their essence both from local know-how and scientific advances.
Traditional agriculture has experienced a remarkable development with its mastery of Agroforestry. The cultivation system was layered, with the presence of several types of crops in the same area; one could admire the association of legumes with maize, trees with climbing tubers, vegetables with roots. The choice of the trees of association was ingenious. In general, the trees shed their leaves during the maize growing season, allowing the plants to have full access to the sun, and the leaves returned as soon as the maize matured, covered with flowers as if to celebrate the harvest festival. Yes, once a year the traditional Chiefdom organized the harvest festival with a variety of dishes for all ages. For example, the twin children were entitled to a special recipe.
The best corn cobs were kept in a silo at the chieftaincy and the chief would redistribute these cobs to the women as seeds at the beginning of sowing.
But then colonization came, with the widespread use of pesticides and other POPs.
In recent years we have been working to rediscover the traditional agricultural model, to protect local varieties, to innovate in the art of cooking for a more balanced traditional diet, to reduce post-harvest losses and to develop the value chain of agricultural products.
We are working with Universities to help understand the chemical composition of traditional foods for their popularization, because knowing what a food brings to the body increases the incentive to consume it.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
An aerial view of the west region. credit : Google Earth
An annual cultural festival held at Bafoussam each year under the high patronage of the Chief.
The Western region with nearly 3,000,000 inhabitants has Bafoussam as its capital. Several satellite cities such as Dschang and Foumbot surround it at an average radius of 45 km. Some rural communities have a density of 400 inhabitants/km2.
The climate is of the equatorial Cameroon sub-variety in the northwestern third and Equatorial Guinea of the kind in the southeastern two-Thirds. Rainfall, moderated by the mountains, averages 1,000-2,000 mm throughout the year.
The mountainous part has volcanic lakes that could release deadly CO2 if not controlled.
There are also waterfalls (such as the Balatchi, Metché and Tsugning Falls) which are tourist attractions, with the possibility of installing small hydroelectric power stations, sources of energy for the creation of processing units for agricultural products.
The original population is made up of several tribes, the Bamilékés, Bamouns, Mbô and Tikars. This population is very culturally diverse. The women get up at 5 am to go to the farm or to prepare for the market. They are a people with high business affinity. No time to make a good meal.
Land problems are recurrent and no part of the city is untouched by urban agriculture. There is no such thing as a flower garden. Only the "Tree of Peace", a local symbol of peace, resists in home gardens.
Food is very diversified. Corn couscous is the basis of the Bamouns' diet, accompanied by vegetables and freshwater fish. The Bamoun country is the heart of market gardening. The art of copper working is a specialty.
The Bamilékés eat a varied diet. Corn, Macabo, plantains, groundnuts, melons, yam, bean vegetables and very little meat. Fruits are not always present. But the region is the area par excellence for avocado production. Farmers grow these crops on the hillsides and use the valleys to plant coco-yams, colocassia, and raffia palms.
Raffia wine/nectar was the ideal drink in the village; rich in vitamin A it was also used to feed the baby in case of loss of the mother.
Chicken farming is intensively carried out, but frequently suffers from the bird flu epidemic with huge financial losses among the farmers.
One of the most popular dishes is "chicken DG" which is eaten with plantain banana which can be ordered in any hotel or restaurant.
The Mbô are fun of Niebé cake, which is rich in vegetable protein. It is eaten with tubers or green banana.
Aquaculture is developing slowly because of an unfavorable ecosystem. But more and more we are witnessing an improved breeding of Tilapia in batteries.
Rice is cultivated in humid shallows and cattle breeding on the hills provides additional animal proteins.
Agriculture and livestock farming form the basis of the region's economy, and access to the market is in great demand by producers. Unfortunately, the quality of the food is not up to par and we can see obesity in women and stunted growth in children.
Most of the traditional dishes rich in local vegetables have been abandoned in favor of so-called modern vegetables, which require chemical inputs. Cases of cancer are uncountable, especially with plastic packaging and poor post-harvest techniques.
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
The region of West Cameroon suffers from problems of food balance and malnutrition. The problems are as follows:
- At the production level, there is excessive use of chemical fertilizers without prior soil analysis, and chemical pesticides (POPs), which are often banned in Europe and the USA.
This causes (i) pollution of surface and ground water, making the water unfit for human consumption; (ii) pollution and degradation of the soil ecosystem, making it increasingly unsuitable for sustainable agricultural production.
Similarly, the colonies of pollinating bees are in constant decline with the use of toxic agricultural pesticides. Honey production is declining, resulting in the high consumption of industrial sugar, which is harmful to health. There has also been a decline in fruit production, causing a drop in the national supply of fruit so that traders are sourcing from neighboring on a massive scale.
However, the country had a glimmer of food security, as the region's cultivation techniques were once adapted to the culinary habits, combining trees (source of humus and nitrogen) with seasonal crops and small livestock. In addition, these trees also served as support for certain crops, notably yams and pepper, and lost their foliage in the maize growing season to allow them access to the sun. Animal waste was used to enrich the soil.
The abandon of small-scale farming and the poisoning of fish by agricultural pesticides caused a huge deficit in animal proteins and a dietary imbalance in the family diet.
Definitely, poor soil health is making it difficult for farmers to grow staple food out for a living.
- At the harvest and processing level, there are huge losses. FAO estimates indicate that post-harvest losses can reach up to 20% for cereals, 30% for dairy and fish, and 40-50% for fruit and vegetables due to lack of post harvest technologies. The carbon footprint of wasted food is approximately 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere on an annual basis. These losses are responsible for (i) the destruction of more forest to increase agricultural production, (ii) low incomes and increased poverty among women, (iii) malnutrition.
- In terms of consumption, there is poor control of food composition, leading to anemia or overweight/obesity in women, malnutrition in children and nutritional deficiencies in the elderly.
Lack of standards and hygiene are at the origin of several cases of food poisoning, particularly in school canteens, with a strong implication on the quality of children's school performance. The alarm has been sounded since 2001, with more than 400 students at the "Lycée d'Anguissa in Yaoundé" suffering from food poisoning.
There are also collective deaths due to agricultural pesticides at the family level.
In restaurants and families, there is heavy use of aluminium pots or plastic in the packaging of hot food, which is believed to cause many cancers.
- The abandonment of mother's milk in favor of dairy products and industrial baby food, despite the diversity of food products and traditional dishes, is at the origin of several premature deaths of children from Zero to One year old.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
To address our vision, we want to:
Develop a regional strategy for sustainable soil management, through for instance soil; To Understand what's wrong, and soil use data to create soil property maps to enable "smart agriculture”.
Promote an ecosystem-based, low-Carbon and Low Inputs / POPs Smart Agriculture through:
Integrated farming with mixed-crops, livestock aquaculture, bee keeping and agroforestry;
Lobbying near MINADER for updating the list of registered pesticides taking into account their impact on biodiversity;
Sensitization for bee protection through use of bee poison-free and the proposal of a law for bee-keeping;
Create a Smart cheap agricultural service for Smallholders
Harnessing of non-timber forest products benefit to broaden the range of local fruits through applied research;
Propose a law for the protection of groundwater and wetlands shallows against chemical pesticides and other POPs.
Develop post-harvest technologies and innovations to Reduce Losses and contamination, and Facilitate market access:
Introduce adapted and cheap technologies for drying, Such As solar dryers for grains, fruits, tubers and meat or improved stove for fish
Promote SMEs clean agroindustry using renewable energies; and fast food local SMEs Proposing Improved diets and free from plastic and aluminum cooking materials.
Develop an efficient digital instrument for, and a virtual platform for ecosystem-based products.
Promote a regional system of sustainable healthy diet for children, women and aging people through:
The analysis of ingredients and main dishes in terms of vitamins, minerals, trace elements and other chemical compounds favorable to human health in partnership with Universities;
Encouraging culinary recipes for children based on local foods whose chemical composition is now known, dried fruits and local compound flours;
For school canteens, train women on hygiene, standards and quality, as well as on innovative culinary recipes;
Raising awareness of breast milk and dietary advice to reduce breast cancer risks and obesity among women;
Produce an illustrated cooking guide on traditional recipes and innovations;
Set up a nutrition communication system, including a website and other social media;
Set up an integrated school unit with chicken farming, fish farming and greenhouse crops for innovations and training.
- Reinforce the regional food governance through an inclusive Task-force and special food days at regional and council levels:
Organize a regional workshop on sustainable healthy diets to discuss the transformation of the current food system; laws for circular agriculture, sustainable food security and healthy diet.
Organize gastronomy days, such as the Avocado, sorgo or breastfeeding festival, with the help of culinary arts to promote changes in food and nutrition, in partnership with municipalities, universities, the private sector of the region and other stakeholders.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
Politically, decision-makers will have become more concerned about the health of citizens and more in favor of a community-led culinary transformation, rather than a system based on trade and heavily controlled by large supermarkets, oriented towards imported food products and habits. Laws for a healthy and sustainable diet will have been passed and the necessary institutions put in place. At the national level the authorities would have put in place a system to achieve the SDGs, especially Goals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 12 and 13. A data collection and analysis strategy will have been put in place using models to enable decision-makers to better assess new and existing policies.
Environmentally, pollution will have been reduced and communities will be familiar with the techniques of circular and sustainable agriculture. Ecosystem services will have become more efficient, especially for the production of healthy food and drinking water. Agricultural yields will have become higher and more resilient, and areas of forest saved will have been better preserved (biodiversity and carbon potential).
Socio-culturally, the culinary knowledge of local populations would have been the subject of a management and innovation strategy, supported by science and tech. The contribution of the Universities will make it possible to develop modern know-how capable of selling some local culinary recipes on the international market. Population will benefit from clean natural products that respect the nutritional habits of the communities. Plastics, a source of cancer, will be eliminated from packaging and cooking.
Economically, more youths will have created clean jobs and women will have improved their income. Families will be wealthier and many savings will be made to send children to school. The tourism sector will be able to see its coastline rise and local crafts will benefit from this. The national GDP will develop favorably and the region will experience sustainable green growth.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
An example of ADEID Food's vision implementation in Ngoulemakong, Southern Region of Cameroon.
A closer view of Bafoussam
An aerial view of Bafoussam
The world is facing some major challenges such as, malnutrition in all its forms, the degradation of environmental and natural resources and climate change. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report (SOFI 2019) shows that the number of the undernourished has been slowly increasing for several years in a row. More than 820 million people go to bed hungry every night. In 2018, 1.3 billion people experienced food insecurity at moderate levels, meaning they did not have regular access to nutritious and sufficient food. At national level a report of SUN Movement (2012-2018) Through its Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) System shows that there are some positive evolution concerning Cameroon food system, there still are some points to adjust such as: the capacity to mobilize funds for nutrition, adult (women and old men) food, nutrition for children under 5 years, and food supplements such as vitamin A or Iodine for water. A study by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2018 reveals that about 15.4% of the Cameroonian population suffers from hunger and about 31.7% of children under five suffer from malnutrition.
For an inclusive transformation change in a sustainable healthy diet, more could be done to bring stakeholders together and breakdown the silo, amount people and institutions working on food security and nutrition, and integrate nutrition in national development policies. It is also important to target the underlying drivers of nutrition (especially access to water, infectious diseases and gender drivers) and intensify high-impact measures and infant and young child feeding practices to address stunting in children and overweight in women.
The West region suffers from malnutrition problems, but above all from a production system that is unsuited to its ecosystem, vulnerable to climate change and highly dependent on chemical inputs. This creates environmental, health and food security challenges.
Worse, Malnutrition is costly to the health of individuals, their well-being and productivity with a high socio-economic cost. Poor diets are a major factor to the rising prevalence of malnutrition in all its forms. Moreover, unhealthy diets and malnutrition are among the top ten risk factors contributing to the global burden of disease.
Around the city of Bafoussam in some rural communities, as a result is practiced intensive land use and a food model that is gradually changing. Social, demographic and economic factors are also contributing to changing lifestyles and eating patterns, and subsequently putting pressure on resources for food production. This is underlined by the declarations of the second FAO conference in 2014 on Nutrition in these terms: "current food systems are increasingly being white challenged to provide adequate, safe, diversified and nutrient rich food for all that contribute to healthy diets due to, inter alia, constraints posed by resource scarcity and environmental degradation, as well as by producing an unsustainable consumption patterns".
In other words, considering the detrimental environmental impact of current food systems, and the concerns raised about their sustainability, there is an urgent need to promote healthy diets with low environmental impacts.
In order to do so, ADEID will follow FAO guidelines:
Ensure affordable and desirable foods for a sustainable healthy diet are available and accessed for the most vulnerable. Address inequities and inequalities, and consider the perspective of people experience poverty and deprivation.
Promote capacity development strategies for behavior change, including consumer empowerment and effective food and nutrition education.
Quantify and balances the potential trade-offs to make sustainable healthy diets available, accessible, affordable, safe and appealing for all.
Develop regional food-based dietary guidelines that define context-specific sustainable healthy diets by taking into account the social, cultural, economic, ecological and environmental circumstances
This will be made by:
Analyzing existing food systems to Identify potential exchange needed to encourage the manufacture, packaging, storage, distribution, marketing, retailing, and consumption of diverse foods needed for sustainable healthy diets
Establish a baseline of current representative diets, conducting individual dietary assessment by age, gender, income, ethnic group, and ecosystem. Use data to identify shifts in diet could potentially have the greatest positive impact on both health, ecological and environment Circumstances.
Bring the different stakeholders to work together and come out with a sustainable diet policy and follow-up mechanism based on social, cultural, economic, ecological and environmental impact indicators falling.
Develop strategy and concrete measures at regional level fitting into the local culture, and could easily enable transformation changes in diet behavior among the population.
On the short and middle term, take into account the humanitarian dimension of local development and circumstances.
At the level of the production in order to reduce POPs and uncertainty, develop a circular and smart agriculture including digital technology as well as data policy.
Identify critical local differences in food insecurity through accurate data for strategic and tactical decision at regional level.
Concretely, in order to promote healthy diets with low environmental impact, we intend to:
Map 100 primary hand foods ingredients of the area as well as the ecosystem of production.
Conduct with the cooperation of the University of Dschang the chemical analysis of each food ingredient to make sure that people know what they eat.
Make a deep analysis of the 25 most common used foods and identify their contribution to a healthy diet;
Develop regional food-based dietary guidelines that define context-specific sustainable healthy diets taking into account the social, cultural, economic, ecological and environmental circumstances;
Develop a regional strategy for data management in production, nutrition and food security;
Lobbying for a regional policy for smart and circular agriculture including the protection of bees;
Improve access to farming technology by sharing equipment between different small-scale farmers through their cooperatives
Develop IT tools to help decision makers, food and health technicians, farmers and families to take the best option for the sustainable production and diets:
A soil fertility survey status and fertilizer recommendation atlases have been published and handed;
The use IT to collect and analyse data for accurate decision at regional and on farm levels. For example, AI can meaningfully contribute to reducing GHGs and increasing food productivity by predicting and tracking agricultural yields using algorithms based on weather and historical yield data; identifying, detecting, and destroying pests, diseases, and invasive species; and targeting top producers of GHGs for reduction. While AI and machine learning are not yet widely accessible to smallholders, they offer exciting opportunities to automate, streamline, and analyse various data, time and labor-intensive agricultural tasks and inform ideal planting conditions.
Use the Geo-spatial Data to identify critical local differences in food insecurity, as regional authorities want to rely on the best available data when making strategic and tactical decisions. Until now, this data often amounts to aggregated national statistics, or generalized sub-national data that masks critical local differences. Satellite imagery, geo-tagged surveys, and cloud computing can be used to reveal population characteristics in countries, cities, and communities down to the 1km2 level.
Production of an IT device to assist family, doctor, restaurant in the composition of their diets for health.
A digital electronic device able to give chemical composition of product or able to detect POPs residues on fruits, vegetables and other foods.
Create a center of Excellency for circular agriculture and sustainable healthy diet to train local specialists in nutrition and organize many diet trade fairs to inform and help people changing their behavioral food.
Create a regional Task force for Smart and Healthy Diet (TASHD) to bring all the stakeholders together for monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning system through a monthly meeting…
Develop a digital application to help producers, consumers, transformers, traders, and transporters to exchange together. As ADEID has already developed a similar app, AFROSHOP, we will just need to adapt.
Build standards and food tractability digital system and develop international diets exchange with Italy, Thailand (seed germinated diet…) and others.
We will promote the development of services for smart agriculture and healthy diet for smallholder farmers and consumers in other to develop youth technical green and sustainable jobs, and train community leaders, NGO staff, as well as all the stakeholders along the agric value chain. The project will also encourage greenhouse agriculture and simplified form of climate-smart aquaponics and turnkey package that integrates technology, training and business planning; as well as links to markets and financing for inclusive food security and sustainable livelihoods, throughout the global food supply chain and diet.
We will work with financial institutions to develop a Facility for sustainable ecosystem-based agriculture (EBA) and healthy diet for smallholders, including climate insurance, food processing and post-harvest green technologies.
A pilot project on school canteen will be conducted in 05 primary and secondary schools, and will help to familiarize youth and teachers on Smart and Healthy diet, while training them on how to use the digital applications to improve their diet. The foods for canteen will come from Smart/EBA agriculture producers.
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