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Deforestation free food commodity supply chains become a norm in Congo basin (Central Africa) and benefit People and Nature in the future

Transform food system through engagement of smallholders in ethical and deforestation free food commodity supply chains .

Photo of Ludovic Miaro
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

World Wild Fund for Nature, Cameroon Country Office

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Large NGO (over 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

- Smallholder cooperative of Mintom (local farmer cooperative) - TELCAR LTD (large Cameroonian cocoa company – Subsidiary of CARGILL) - Rainforest Alliance Cameroon (International NGO) - Environmental Governance Institute (local NGO) - Proforest (consultancy firm) - IDH (large NGO) - Solidaridad (large NGO) - Local Administration (Government: Agriculture, Environment, Forest, Land Tenure, Industry, Planning, Trade and Finance)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

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?

Ngoyla-Mintom Forest Block (TRIDOM Cameroon Landscape): 9 321 km²

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

The Ngoyla-Mintom forest block is situated between the Nki National Park and Dja Biosphere Reserve in the East and South regions of Cameroon. The area is an important wildlife corridor within the TRIDOM Cameroon landscape where WWF has been working for the past 26 years. It covers 932,142 hectares (9 321 km²) and is the largest expanse of undisturbed tropical rainforest in Cameroon. Initially intended for logging, the area was then assigned to conservation in the late 1990s. It is a priority area for conservation in the Congo Basin. The current agriculture policy in Cameroon is to expand the agriculture sector due to the current dropping prices of commodities (oil) from extractive industries. WWF’s objective in this area is to engage smallholder farmers in deforestation free food commodity supply chain, stop poaching and to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and the maintenance of the carbon stock through the implementation of integrated and participatory land-use planning, participatory sustainable management of natural resources and equitable benefit sharing with the local populations, including indigenous people.

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.

The Ngoyla-Mintom forest block is inhabited by over 10,000 people across 60 villages. Most belong to the Fang, Djem, Nzimé and BaAka ethnic groups. The indigenous BaAka people make up 30% of the total population and they have a strong culture that drives the community. Indeed, the current cultural set up of the landscape is dominated by local communities and small bands of nomadic Indigenous Peoples (Baka). A large number of people from other parts of Cameroon and beyond have settled in the area, attracted by the booming infrastructure and other projects such as agriculture development with a focus on the cocoa sector. Most people depend on natural resources to make their living, through subsistence agriculture, small-scale livestock production, fisheries hunting, and non-timber forest products. The vast majority are below the poverty line with low access to medical, low access to energy & electricity and minimal education (maximum primary school) and usually affected by lack of teachers and lack of money for education. An estimated 70% of the population are farmers, and agriculture comprised an estimated 19.8% of GDP in 2009. Agriculture remains the main source of employment and livelihoods for rural populations.  Economic aspiration of Cameroon is to become emergent by 2035, hence the government has prioritized economic development and is currently seeking increased production of cash crops (both palm oil and cacao). Indeed, the Government of Cameroon has initiated projects such as the New Generation Program of agriculture and its ambition of increasing food commodities such as cocoa production to 600,000 tons annually by 2020 may fuel further deforestation in this area.However, most farmers practice traditional agriculture mixing food crop agriculture (cassava, plantains, yams, peanuts, maize, taro) for subsistence and local market and cash crops (cocoa, coffee, rubber, oil palm) for income. Smallholders dominate production, but there are tremendous gaps between actual and potential yields because of poor agricultural practices. Cacao is the only cash crop being grown for the market, notably for export. Bush meat is the primary source of protein for many people in TRIDOM. Traditional food crop agriculture (subsistence and cash crops) is based on expansions impacting on high conservation value (HCV) and high carbon stock (HCS) forest areas. 

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 main challenge for food system in Ngoyla Mintom and the wider Cameroon is how to engage and equip famers that need higher secured income to use sustainable farming practices in food commodity production that lead to improved crop quality and production, and increase incomes without negative environmental impact. 

The current environmental challenges are the growing demand for some food commodities such as cocoa and palm oil that development are threatening conversion of the HCV and HCS forest areas and depletion of its biodiversity (bush meat). In 2050, agriculture expansions to feed growing population (eg. Meet cocoa and palm oil demands) are foreseen, together with common agroindustry problems like pollution, over-fertilization, soil fertility depletion, erosion etc. 

The current diet problems are very limited diet variety, mostly carbohydrates, and many children have hunger edema. Common vegetables are hard to get because of low cultivation. In 2050 the population growth in Africa, including Cameroon, will lead to an even higher pressure on resources, making meat likely even less accessible. 

Nomadic nature of indigenous Peoples (Baka) is quickly disappearing leading to loss of practicing their culture and lack of transfer to the next generation. Immigration from elsewhere in Africa, also from the North due to Climate Change impacts, leads to influx on different cultures that by 2050 especially the Baka culture may have been all but lost. 

 Currently most farming happens with low capacity, lack of technical skills & tools and issues of land tenure, all issues leading to low yields. Production of cocoa in the countries of the Congo Basin is poor except for Cameroon with an estimated average yield of 300 kg per hectare against 800 – 1,000 kg per hectare for Indonesia, and 2-3 ton/ha in Vietnam. Typical problems for smallholder farmers in this area are: (i) Low income and earns around 500 XFA (< 1 USD) per day and usually not in cash, (ii) vulnerable to buyer influence and accepting low price deals due to cash constraints and no alternatives, (iii) hard to reach due to lack of roads infrastructure, (iv) no access to formal finances (bank account, loans) and no access to international markets and buyers, and (v) no or poor knowledge of modern technology (e.g. mobile phone apps, agricultural best management practices).

The Government of Cameroon in its effort to revitalize the cocoa sector envisages increasing production by 2030 to 600,000 tons annually. The total surface of planted cocoa area by 2014 in Cameroon is estimated at about 670 000 hectares and current estimated average production is 250 000 T/year.  Regarding palm oil sector, the average yield in the region is 9 Tons FFB/ha/year, which is largely below 20 Tons FFB/ha in South East Asia (SEA). The average extraction rate is 17%, while 20% in SEA. Palm oil deficit is almost 50% and Government and private sector are investing billion XAF to import crude palm oil from SEA to meet national demand. 


Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Addressing these challenges requires a greater focus on smallholder farmers as agents of deforestation through increased engagement based on innovative ideas that will increase yields, income of smallholders while conserving the Landscape’s rich biodiversity. The “Integrated Agribusiness – Conservation Model” for deforestation-free food commodity supply chains implemented through a partnership developed between the cocoa smallholder farmers from Ngoyla-Mintom forest block and the companies committed for deforestation free food commodity (cocoa) sourcing is considered as a promising solution. The core idea is to offer financial incentives and to secure technical support that gives farmers additional resources to use sustainable farming practices and increase their income. This model will be supported by strengthening local cooperatives or unions which hold capacity building and accountability roles as well as governance roles in smallholder farmer communities and improve the negotiation power of individual smallholder farmers.

Indeed, there is an unprecedented opportunity for Congo basin countries (including Cameroon) to reverse a global trend and create a virtuous circle for environmental protection, economic development and social progress by avoiding the same pathway for cocoa development taken by countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia who despite being the world’s largest cocoa producers have seen a large expanse of forestland disappeared. In Bonn in 2017 during the UNFCCC COP 23, the world’s top producing chocolate companies made a global commitment to curb further conversion of any forestland for cocoa production. This commitment was captured in the Cocoa and Forest Initiative framework (CFI) for Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, a discussion led by the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) under the support of the Cambridge Sustainability Leadership Program (CSLP), the Prince of Charles Foundation and the World Bank. At the same time, many large companies have published their own commitments, and are developing programs to implement. This “Model” will create enabling conditions for Community-managed enterprises based on sustainable forest management principles and the best agricultural practices.

To achieve that, the key intervention areas will be to:

Identify key companies that can be champions to engage with smallholder farmers in ethical food commodity supply chains.

 Determine best legal entity for the management of smallholder farmer communities (i.e. cooperative, association etc.) and codify the “Model

Define the best financial incentive model for fulfilling commitments of smallholder farmers for deforestation free food commodity production.

Identify additional technical incentive schemes for sustainability.

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.

The “Integrated Agribusiness-Conservation Model” has become the main food production approach endorsed and implemented by both smallholder cooperatives and companies in Cameroon TRIDOM landscape. Better production methods have led to a 100% yield increase on the cooperative member’s plots and increasing incomes for smallholder farmers leading to stable and healthy incomes for their families and other actors in the product chain. This will allow them to better their lives, by eating more nutrient-rich diets, provide schooling for their children, and health care for their family members. Farmers are well equipped to farm and to manage their own business, providing jobs for communities while also contributing more to tax revenues for the state. A strong local community cohesion due to local socio-economic development will contribute to family welfare and also eradicate the abusive relationship with indigenous people (Baka) workers on the farms. There will have been a very limited conversion of (High Conservation Value/High Carbon Stock) forests areas for agriculture development. The largely intact and ecologically connected forests will still have their biodiversity intact, including critically endangered species like the forest elephant and gorilla and will have maintained their function as providers of ecosystem services (rain, drinking water, non-timber forest products, timber). 

Development of alternative sources of protein to replace bush meat will influence behavior changes in term of protein sources for populations. Strategies aimed at directing consumers to other sources of protein. Local production of traditional species of poultry, small ruminants, pigs, cattle, not leaving out fish farming should be developed. Another alternative source of proteins is made up of invertebrate species (such as caterpillars, snails and worms). 

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The economic aspirations of Cameroon need to be met through a sustainable development agenda, to which this program will make a significant contribution. This will be achieved through the consistent use of responsible production systems for a wide range of economic activities. Smallholder farmers will follow best management practices (BMPs) in food production systems. This will lead to increased decent employment for the people in TRIDOM and to secure sustainable food commodities sourcing for the local, regional and even world market (e.g. palm oil, cacao, coffee).

The “integrated Agribusiness-Conservation Model” is an important cross cutting approach as it addresses drivers of biodiversity loss with respect to GHG emissions, deforestation, water use & pollution, and human wildlife conflict while also providing solutions with respect to sustainable food system and corporate engagement. It links to important issues such as food security and both social and economic development.


This area is characterized by an exceptionally high biodiversity. It is abundant with endangered wildlife species and performs critical ecosystem services as a corridor between the important protected High-Conservation-Value (HCV) areas in the TRIDOM landscape. In 2050, forest cover and biodiversity will be maintained given that the “Model” is:

  • Addressing conversion of HCV/HCS forest areas for cocoa and palm oil production while encouraging equitable access to the benefits is an integral part of WWF’s conservation solution.
  • Addressing the drivers of deforestation and biodiversity loss through the ongoing works on best management practices, certification & standards, agricultural policy, post-harvest losses and food waste, and consumption work.
  • Improving resilient landscapes and ecosystem integrity through work on land use, agro-ecology and conservation agriculture.


The “Model” as a solution will contribute to increase incomes of smallholder farmers who will invest more in developing alternative sources of proteins (animals and plants) through Local production of traditional species of poultry, small ruminants, pigs, cattle, fish farming, etc.


The “Model” will contribute to have entrepreneur farmers in Cameroon who will play key role in ethical and sustainable cocoa and palm oil supply chains through:  

  • Better incentives to smallholder farmers engaged in conservation of local community forests and related carbon storage in line with local management plans; 
  • Sustainable Intensification of existing cocoa and oil palm farms as a key solution for the combination of economic growth and the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity;
  • Better productivity: 100 % yield (palm oil FFB and cocoa) increase on the selected oil palm/cacao plots and increasing incomes for smallholder famers and local communities as well with positive impacts on local development;
  • Development of out-grower schemes in Community Development Zones. To do so, the project will facilitate the creation of strong and performant local cooperatives that can help farmers reach economies of scale and better negotiating positions in ecological commodity supply chains. At the same time, it will seek to mobilize and to connect domestic and international companies who can offer longer term demand for zero deforestation products.


The “Model” will contribute create an inclusive and performant agricultural system that at least doubles yields in the existing smallholder’s plantations without new expansions in HCV/HCS forest areas. This is done through a “prototype partnership” that will connect buyer company (oil palm FFB and cacao beans) to cooperatives of smallholder farmers that members have formally committed for deforestation-free cocoa/palm oil production (no expansion of existing farms and no new development in HCV/HCS areas), through a system of premiums and technical assistance. We want to see Entrepreneur farmers with a new culture of business-based agriculture instead smallholder farmers using artisanal/traditional agricultural practices.


Technical assistance for increasing productivity of cash crops (palm oil and cocoa) from the small scale farms (1 – 3 ha) is insured through win-win partnerships between buyer companies and cooperatives of smallholder farmers. 

The current oil palm supply chain has lower overall processing efficiency because of the many artisanal operators who use lower cost and less efficient processing methods. Traditional methods of oil extraction from palm fruits used manual labour for all operations and this resulted in low productivity and have low extraction rates (15%) compared to Industrial mills (21 to 22%). By 2050, 90% of supply is channeled into industrial mill and equipment/methods and 100% of artisanal mills has been upgraded to improve processing efficiency. 


Through its “Integrated Agribusiness-Conservation Model and “Africa’s Food Future Initiative “, WWF is building community livelihood and landscape resilience in target landscapes. 

WWF is working with government of Cameroon to implement national agricultural policies/programs, regional and international commitments. This involves leading bodies such as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Roundtable for Responsible Palm Oil (RSPO), technical and financial partners, Government agencies (Coffee and cocoa board) and local NGOs/CSOs. To date Cameroon is partner of Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 (TFA 2020), has maps of “go and no zones” for palm oil expansion in Cameroon and has a draft national palm oil strategy with focus on smallholder scheme. By 2050, Cameroon adopts food production systems that balance agricultural development and the conservation of its natural capital (biodiversity and ecosystems functions) through implementation of a national palm oil strategy, a D-free cocoa roadmap and a green cocoa landscape program (GCLP). 

System focused approach

WWF recognizes the role of smallholders as potential agents for regenerative and nourishing food future in Ngoyla-Mintom place. the “Integrated Agribusiness-Conservation Model” is an integrated approach which will mainstream this potential to achieve local socioeconomic development, while preserving the HCV forest areas through policy enforcement and ethical food commodity supply chains.

 Transformative potential

- Smallholder farmers form local cooperatives that support them with capacity building, monitoring and accountability on implementing sustainable farming practices. Cooperatives are also the key entity engaging with companies on behalf of the local smallholder farmers they represent. 

- Companies (committed for D-free sourcing) offer an incentive model on the products buying price of which part is provided via one or more of the following non-cash vehicles: technical assistance, better inputs, management practices capacity building (Field Farm School) and premium is provided in cash upon the farmer providing additional yield and demonstrating the use of sustainable farming practices.

- All palm oil compa- nies adhere to RSPO and other commodities adhere to highest international sourcing responsible standards (e.g. Rainforest – UTZ);

- Smallholder’s food production comply with the best management practices contributing to minimize conversion of natural forests and HCV/HCS areas.

- No more conversion of natural forests for large scale agriculture (palm oil, cacao) and better management of natural resources.


- Use of technical protocol to replicate and to scale the “Model” in entire Congo basin (central Africa region).

- Investors for large agroindustry investments commit to highest international environmental standards (D-free food commodity supply chains) for projects in Cameroon TRIDOM landscape.

- Key existing initiatives and partners (technical and financial) are leveraged to improve the effectiveness of the “Model”.

- Local CSOs to evaluate and to monitor the quality and progress 

 Community Rooted

 - Smallholder farmers sign a non-deforestation and no expansion agreement and commitment to sustainable farming practices using the inputs and agricultural practices received via the cooperative.

- Empowering smallholder farmers which play key role in sustainable food commodity supply chains.

- Farmers and local communities (including Indigenous Peoples) earn a decent living in small sale agriculture and abuse has stopped.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Photo of Usama Turajo

Hello dear.
I will like to inform you that the deadline of submission is on (31st January, 2020) try and published if you haven't done that.
Regards: Usama Turajo

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