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10 December 2013

1500 Farmers benefit from ERuDeF’s Forest Protection Fund

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Flourishing Chicken business thanks to micro loans from FOPROF

There is no gainsaying that for the sustainable management of the biodiversity to be a success, brilliant strategies to alleviate poverty and foster community development must be put in place.

The failure of the formal financial sector to provide affordable credit to forest adjacent communities has been one of the main factors that has led to fast disappearance of biodiversity and critically endangered ecosystems. This is because lack of access to micro-credit schemes for low income farmers has left them with no choice than invading the forests. One of the main challenges faced by forest adjacent communities is having access to formal financial institutions. Most often financial institutions are not present in villages. Where they are present, they generally require significant collateral, have preference for high income and high loans client, and have lengthy and bureaucratic application procedures which do not meet the needs of these forest adjacent communities. This is particularly seen in the women folk who in most cases are traditionally discriminated for landed property ownership.

It was in line with these grim realities that the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) in 2006 created the Forest Protection Fund to provide an institutional mechanism through which these local people could obtain financial liquidity to enable them stop destructive forest activities such as slash and burn, deforestation, poaching and illegal logging and take on sustainable off forest activities including beekeeping, domestication of NTFPs, to name these. Five Forest Protection Funds were created with a membership of 153 farming groups and above 1500 individuals have benefitted from this model. This Fund gives collateral-free loans only to farming groups in order to foster income generation and poverty reduction through enhancing self-employment. In 2010 the Fund established the Biodiversity Community Trust (BCT) which is out to mobilize resources from the member public and give out to her members as loans and the profits generated will be used to support charitable activities in the Forest Adjacent communities.

Forest Protection Fund since inception has given out loans worth Five million Two hundred and Fifty Three thousand francs 5,253,000.

One of the beneficiaries from the ERuDeF's Forest protection Fund, SLAY CIG explained that "we started our poultry farm with 250 birds, we now have 650 birds thanks to micro credit support from the Forest Protection Fund. We use fowl dunk to plant yam and tomatoes thus increasing our family food self sufficiency. We also raise money from the sale of used saw dust"

Another CIG known as the Social Farmers CIG Muea also told the FPF management team that they took a loan of 450,000 FCFA to plant cocoyam, after selling the cocoyam and paying back the loan, they realized a profit of 150,000FCFA.


By Anu Ursela Nkeng