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Tuesday
Aug232016

CHALLENGES FACED BY COCOA PRODUCERS IN WABANE VALLEY

The International Festival of Cameroonian Cocoa took place in Yaounde, from 11 to 15th of August, this year. The purpose for the festival, was to rejuvenate farms and farmers in cocoa and coffee sectors, in the country. Cameroon, which is the world 5th largest cocoa producer, produced 225000 tons of cocoa in the year 2013/2014, and is expected to produce 230000 tons by the end of 2016. Cocoa is one of the main cash crops in Cameroon, and the South West Region accounts for up to 70% of the nation's cocoa.

In 2011, Breaking Ground started a project in Wabane, one of our partner villages in the South West Region, to educate them on how to improve on the quantity and quality of cocoa in their community. We distributed cocoa plants to the farmers, and this year, they have harvested more cocoa than ever. Despite all these, the farmers complain that, they face a lot of challenges during cocoa production.

Planted in 2011

To begin with, most of the farmers in this village are poor, and cannot buy pesticides and fungacides to spray their crops, so this leads to fungal attacks like mirids and brown pod diseases, that could account for 30% loss in production.

In addition, the South West Region is known for heavy and prolonged rains, and little sunshine, thus,cocoa beans take longer to dry, or do not completely get dry. Because of this, the farmers resolve to use locally made firewood ovens, built with mud bricks, which burn the cocoa beans. The ovens also produce smoke, which deteriorates the quality of the beans.

Drying with the locally made firewood oven, burns beans

Also, the farmers complain of poor farm-to-market roads. Rain has rendered most roads from cocoa farms  impassable. During rainy seasons, from Dschang, one can take 2 to 3 days to get to Wabane and it costs about 15000FRS. Farmers sell their crops at very cheap prices to local buyers, because they cannot afford to pay trucks  that transport crops to big markets .

Breaking Ground encourages us all to support these farmers because, cocoa production offers significant oppotunities for poverty alleviation, and sustainable development if the necessary infrastructure and support is facilitated.

Wednesday
Aug102016

EMPOWER WOMEN FOR A BETTER FUTURE

I love the Women Empowerment Principle which reads, empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors, is essential to build stronger economies, achieve international agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve on the quality of life for women, men, families, and communities. Women are considered to be weak and not fit to do certain kind of jobs in some parts of the world. One of Breaking Ground's missions is to help women in developing countries achieve their potentials and gain equality, and overcome economic limitations and social bias.

Women are able too

In order to this, we organized a Women's Entrepreneurial Program to train female entrepreneurs. These women learn business skills and at the end of the classes, they submit a business plan and are given the opportunity to take a loan and start a business.The business classes are currently going on in Dschang.

Women Entrepreneurial classes

Also, knowing that a vast majority of agricultural workers in the world are female, we started a project in 2011 with some women in Wabane Valley, in the South West Region of Cameroon, to improve on the quantity and quality of cocoa and palm nuts cultivated, which was funded by Dining for Women in 2013. Recently, our executive director, Paul traveled up to the village to distribute palm plants to the farmers. Breaking Ground has empowered more than 50 women who can cultivate crops like men and even better, and some of them have started harvesting cocoa already.

Our crops are ready!

The empowerment of these women to grow and sell crops will decrease malnourishment in my country and increase the amount of food available for export, and will reduce poverty in Cameroon.  

 

Wednesday
Jul202016

BUSINESS AND LEADERSHIP TRAINING SEMINAR

In most African countries, especially Cameroon, men are considered to have the potential to be leaders, while women are supposed to sit back home and do chores. In some parts of my country, female leaders are considered to be disrespectful and not submissive to their husbands. For this reason, Breaking Ground, in partnership with Memorial Flavia, a partner NGO in Dschang, organized a leadership seminar for our farmers in Legouh, an agricultural cooperative, from our partner village, Nzong.

Partipants, set up for the seminar

During this seminar, which lasted 2 days, the participants learned leadership skills, qualities of a good leader, and how to apply skills learned in their organization. Also, they learned that being united, cooperative, and transparent, will help their cooperative grow.

Each group prepares to do a presentation

In addition, they worked in small groups to discuss organizational topics like, the role of the management committee and the general assembly in an organization. Each group did a presentation on a topic and women were encouraged to lead the work.

participants cooperating to working on a topic

At the end of the training, Breaking Ground is happy to see bold women who are ready to lead their community. Mrs Tintock Francoise, president of Legouh agricultural cooperative was very happy that she learned a lot from the seminar. She learned leadership skills, effective leadership, and she believes this training will help her become a good leader by applying these skills in her organization.

 

Tuesday
Jul052016

SOCCER PROGRAM WITH COACHES ACROSS CONTINENTS

Participants get ready for the "problem solver game"As a Cameroonian, I can testify that gender stereotypes still exist in my country. For example, in my village, Babessi, we are expected to get married at a certain age. When I last went to the village, my relatives were surprised that I wasn't married or haven't had a child at the age of 23. To them, my masters degree would make me a less desirable wife.

In Regions like the North, women are not encouraged to be leaders, and people often say, "a woman's place is in the kitchen" . In order to breakdown such gender barriers, Breaking Ground, in partnership with Coaches Across Continents ( CAC )  organized a soccer program in Ngoundere and Dschang in order to train local cameroonian coaches.

We had three volunteers from CAC, Charlie; the ground coordinator, Mike; a high school teacher, and Lea; a Swiss national, volunteering untill grad school in the fall. They had two training sessions, one in Ngoundere and the other in Dschang and did activities that promoted life skills, taught about HIV/AIDS, coorperation, and leadership.

Participants were encouraged to work like a team. For example, in the game called "problem solver", they were divided into groups of three and formed a circle. Each group was given a ball and had to carry it around the circle without using their hands, and not letting the ball touch the ground. Each group succeeded but used very different solutions. This game was to teach participants the power of teamwork and how to coorperate with each other.

The coaches also taught games like " Run like a girl" where they gave directions like "kick like a girl" or "kick like a boy." At the end, the coaches asked them why they did the activities differently as a girl or as a boy. The game's goal was to examine gender roles and show participants that, whether you are a man or woman, boy or girl, they are equal.

 At the end of the week, Breaking Ground was happy to see the creation of girl leaders who will contribute to develop their community, breakdown gender stereotypes and use sports as a development tool.

Tuesday
Jun212016

Meet Our New Social Media Intern!

Breaking Ground is happy to introduce our new Social and Media Communications Intern, Melissa Mariembe. She was born in Ndop, North West Region of Cameroon, specifically in Babessi village in Bamenda. She obtained a bachelors degree in Law at the University of Buea and is currently a student of the masters program International Trade And Investment Law in Africa at the University of Dschang.                           

She will be working with our Peace Corps volunteer, Haley, for the next month in order to be trained on publishing Breaking Ground's social media updates. She will begin work in August. Let's welcome Melissa to the Breaking Ground team!