It is called ‘Association des Filles de Séguélendom réunies au sein de la Coopérative Agro-pastorale’ best known with acronym – AFISE COOP-SA. This initiative, which aims to improve the well-being of members, is based in Séguélendom, a village located 307 km from Yaoundé in the Doumaintang Subdivision of the Upper Nyong Division in the East region of Cameroon. The idea of a grouping arose from an observation of idleness in the community and a laborious but unprofitable agricultural practice. Three founding members therefore got together in 2017 in the village to develop and implement this idea to raise the living conditions of the populations and boost community development.
On August 16, 2019, the cooperative was legalized and could therefore operate officially through the creation of community fields and the constitution of a savings and loans scheme.
The main crops grown by members are: various varieties of plantain, pistachios, cassava and its derivatives as well as maize. They also established a piggery. During the quarterly meetings in the village activities are assessed, needs recorded and new members integrated.
“Specifically, we want to curb rural exodus by encouraging the return of sons and daughters to the village, raise their awareness given the considerable backwardness, create a synergy around common goals and truly support members in their projects », declared Mrs. Yvette Tsingang, Civil Engineer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of AFISE COOP – SA.
This cooperative is currently operating on its own funds with contributions from members and freewill donations. It acquired a motorbike and a tricycle which are rented out and the proceeds returned to the treasury. Women are a priority for a very specific reason, as Mrs. Tsingang indicates: “In Cameroon, the family unit is carried more by the woman who is responsible for feeding, ensuring the education of the children and maintaining the household. Faced with all this, she experiences a lot of frustrations, an even more serious situation for the rural woman who faces many difficulties in terms of access to farmland and participation in decision-making on the use of the fruit of her labour “. AFISE COOP – SA aims to empower women, encourage them to give the best to ensure the sustainability of the family unit.
Since its creation three years ago, the cooperative has been able to acquire a 30 hectare field of which 10 are already in operation and the other 20 under preparation. In the operating section, 10 000 plantain shoots were planted as well as an orchard with 200 grafted pear plants. The cooperative has further extended its action in the locality of Mfou, some 30 km in the east outskirts of Yaoundé in the Center region, where it has acquired and is exploiting 6 hectares of land, where there are 6000 plantain shoots, 500 pear trees and about 1000 chilli pepper plants are being grown.
“We used to cultivate small plots that brought in almost nothing, but today we are working on large areas thanks to this cooperative which has brought another vision of agriculture to the village. The future looks bright because I have grown 2 hectares of maize and the plants are behaving very well”, says Mrs. Djattoh Eliane, mother of three and founding member of AFISE COOP-SA. By demonstrating that farming never deceives, this cooperative is gradually attracting youths of the Séguélendom village.
AFISE COOP-SA aims to develop a large production pole and evolve from manual farming to mechanized agriculture in order boost output and supply large markets. It also intends to transform delicate products to prevent post-harvest losses. For the moment, the cooperative, which has 30 regularly registered farmers, including 7 board members, supplies the farmers with inputs (improved seeds and phytosanitary products). It also provides members with loans for investment on individual plots.
By MELI Rostand
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