Officials of the Ministry of Women Empowerment and the Family last August 27 2013 in Kumba, South Western Cameroon trained some women in innovative ways of creating wealth, from the many different produce they farmed. They were also taught how to preserve food crops after harvest, a strategy that could be copied by other disadvantaged women across the continent.
Dr. Margaret Niger Thomas, Director of Economic Empowerment and the Family in the ministry told Iroko Africa the forum was meant to enable the women “learn new and modern techniques in the production, transformation and conservation of agro-pastoral products in order to avoid post harvest losses.
Niger Thomas said the empowerment of the Cameroonian woman, which is at the centre of the work their ministry did, is being promoted diligently.
“It is the responsibility of the government of Cameroon to contribute in the capacity building of the rural woman in Cameroon. Our ministry has an agenda for all women and progressively, we will involve other women groups. Cameroonians will not have food on their tables without the rural woman so we have to get them empowered,” she explained.
The Director of Economic Empowerment and the Family said women must be able to benefit from what they produce, increase their capital base and be able to transform their products from primary to secondary level products “They have to move from the level of subsistence to entrepreneurs and this entails learning new techniques. They need to learn to transform cassavain to garri and from garri to another product”. Apart from producing garri from cassava, the women were also taught how they could use cassava to produce starch or flour which they could also sell for more money.
On how the products of the women could also be sold in an international market, Niger Thomas said “We have also taught them group dynamics and how to group themselves in a cooperative. Individually, it will be difficult for most of the women, especially in accessing loans from big banks but we are advising them to get together as common initiative groups. That way, they will access bigger markets, put their resources together, increase productivity, transform them, respect the norms, packaging and compete in the bigger markets,” she added.
Southwest Regional Delegate of Women Empowerment and the Family, Juditha Moffah said it is time to teach rural women to avoid being idle and to use the time they have to produce goods they could market at home and abroad.
Augusta Epuli Anjoh, a resource person at the forum told the women “must know they are in business and knowledge about financial management is critical,”.
Christopher Ekongwe Kang, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture explained to the women that their success begins with understanding the principles of vegetable production. These, he said include freezing, drying and storage. “They need to learn how to produce for others, access technology and to sell beyond their smaller communities.”, he told Iroko Africa.
Mariana Sama Mojoko from Idenau and Grace Ndobou Bih from Bali, two of the participants admitted the Kumba forum gave them ideas on how to add value to their products, and how to increase their market base.