From cocoa to empowerment: the transformation of women and families in Cameroon

03/07/23

As stated by Equal Origins, gender gaps and inequities are especially prevalent in coffee and cocoa producing countries, which means that farmers around the world are often not producing to their fullest capacity. Women play critical roles throughout the coffee and cocoa production process, however men most often capture the resulting income affecting the gender balance in families and communities. Recently, Agroproduce Management Services Ltd (AMS) offered training on the production of 5 household wellness products with the aim to improve the lives of female cocoa farmers in Cameroon by providing them with the skills to diversify their income sources and improve their economic status.

 

For a period of two weeks, 572 female AMS farmers participated in the training. They were taught how to make liquid soap, bleach, insect repellent spray, Vaseline, and medicated bar soap. They learned how to safely produce and market their high-quality products. Through this program, the women in the cocoa growing communities were taught new skills and created additional sources of income for the household influencing their economic decision making power.

 

 

Vera Kah, a beautician and trainer with over 10 years of experience took on the training with passion, as a mission to help improve the lives of the cocoa producing women. The sessions were meticulously planned and the women were given detailed handouts to help them once the training had finished. She took on an inclusive demonstration approach; inviting all the participants to practice at different points. Vera Kah encouraged them to be creative and develop their own unique recipes, allowing for personal expressions within the craft, while emphasizing the importance of quality control, packaging and branding to guarantee good sales.

 

Melingui Edith and Fetala Marthe expressed their excitement and determination to raise capital to start their own production units once they begin selling their cocoa this season. They were determined in their belief that the diversified income streams would usher in a new era of financial stability for their families.

 

Another beneficiary, Mama Vera has the same challenge as most of the women; a lack of a start-up capital. She revealed to us on the phone that she intends to commence with a free training session with the women in her church group. She had already shared the interest with the pastor who had promised to furnish all necessary materials needed. ‘Once I save up a decent amount of money, I am launching my business,’ she said.

 

 

One heartwarming testimonial came from Mukong Gladys, a mother whose daughter needed medicated soap for a skin condition, and the mother convinced her daughter to try out the hand-made soap. To her relief, the soap proved effective in treating her daughter's condition. “Now with the medical soap, not only am I free from worrying about my daughter, but the cockroaches that could be found in my home are also gone after I used the insect repellent spray from the training. But, my main challenge is that here in Mbema, we have nowhere to buy the ingredients, so I had to send my daughter to her holidays with a list of items and FCFA 20,000 so that she can buy them and bring them back for me. Once she is back, I will produce for her consumption first, then for business”. 

 

With the skills acquired within the training, the women can now diversify their incomes and increase their chances of financial independence. The joy on their faces illuminated our hearts as they posed for group photographs, symbolic of their unity in determination and shared success.

 

Words of the women’s enthusiasm are making waves, and we are considering other ways to further help them establish themselves, especially as groups.

 

 

 

Written by: Clerance Forchu 

 

Contributions: Christine Ewanoge, Achuo-aya Vera, Cha Alphonse, Ambe Duizel, Ngah Anaba

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