Master's Thesis, 2009, 66 Pages
Table 1: Population distribution of Tubah according to the 1987 Population Census 8
Table 2: Total number of micro- projects received from FG in Tubah between (2006-2008) 19
Table 3: Forms of land conflicts in Tubah 29
Table 4: Major ways of access to land in Tubah 30
Figure 1: A Venn diagram illustrating intersection of group membership within groups. 36
Figure 2: A Venn diagram illustrating access to eligibility for the NSPMS grant scheme 38
APIR: Agricultural Professionalization and Institutional Reinforcement
BASSUG: Bambui Union of Self Help Groups
CIG: Common Initiative Group
CIFG: Common Initiative Farming Group
DO: Sub-Divisional Officer
DSDSR: Document de Strategie du Developpément du Secteur Rurale
EU: European Union
FG: Farming Groups
FGD: Focus Group Discussions
GHPC: General Housing and Population Census
GP-DERUDEP: Grassfield Participatory and Decentralised Rural Development Program
HIPC: Heavily Indebted Poor Country
HYV: High Yielding Varieties
IFAD: International Fund for Agricultural Development
IRAD: Institut de Recherche Agricole pour le Développement
MINADER: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
MDG: Millennium Development Goals
NEPAD: New Partnership for African Development
Poverty and its eradication is one of the core concerns of development studies and literature on the subject tends to conceptualize rural poverty mainly as a lack of resources. Thus, efforts towards its reduction have often been to give the poor these resources. However, even when these resources are distributed, the poor continue to find it hard to access them. By analyzing how inequalities imbedded in social institutions tend to deprive and exclude the poor from accessing resources distributed by NSPMS, this research seeks to, contribute to the re-conceptualization of rural poverty as a socio-political process imbedded in societal institutions.
In recent years, while the conceptualization of rural poverty is often considered to be a lack of resources by the poor, literature on the African land tenure question has often presented the continent as one with abundant land and not experiencing a land tenure question like other societies in Asia and Latin America. With this conceptualization and, basing on such a projection of the continent, most governments tend to design and implement rural poverty reduction programs on the grounds that, access to land is not a major obstacle for the poor in Africa. This paper seeks to analyze the exclusion involved in such assumptions with a focus on NSPMS, a national rural poverty reduction program in Cameroon which aims at supporting farmers by giving them other productive resources.
Under this support program, it is considered that, access to land is not a major problem for rural farmers. Rather, rural farmers are seen as not organized enough to access land because; a FG can always access land if it wants. Thus, farmers’ problem is not lack of access to land but, a lack of organization. From this perspective therefore, NSPMS through their grant conditions emphasize that, all farmers whether landed or landless should form FG because as a FG, access to land is not a problem. In which case, all farmers both landlords and the landless can access these grants to improve their livelihood. However, like Peters (2004) indicates, literature on the land struggle in African countries suggests a land question expressed as a land tenure question which this paper will use to confront and challenge NSPMS’s assumptions such as to expose the exclusionary processes involved in these assumptions.
To do this, the paper is structured in five chapters. Chapter one presents the research context, exploring aspects like the research problem, objective and questions, analytical framework, methodology and limitations of the study. Chapter two presents NSPMS, its rationale, grant conditions as well as a critical review of its assumptions about: farmers’ access to land and their ability to freely form or join FG. Chapter three reviews the African land question as a land tenure question using Cameroon as an example. This chapter also examines access to land in Tubah by critically discussing it’s land tenure question . Chapter four confronts NSPMS assumptions with the land question in Tubah such as to analyze exclusion by questioning who has the land, who belongs to farming groups, who gets the grants and who is excluded. This chapter points to exclusionary processes involved between access to land, belonging to farming group, being eligible to apply for the grants and finally, obtaining the grants. It also gives a glance at other exclusionary processes
involved in the process. Finally, Chapter five presents an analytical conclusion with a guess on policy implications.
The fight against poverty is an issue of global concern and, poverty reduction strategies range from local community based to, national and international approaches. In Cameroon, a ‘sectoral’ approach is adopted in strategizing poverty reduction (PRSP, 2003). This approach has been common place since Cameroon’s admission as a Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) in 2000. In this approach, the agricultural sector is said to be of prime importance to the Cameroonian economy (Fondjong, 2004: 1) since it employs 59% of the active population. However, 85% of the poor in Cameroon live in rural areas and derive their livelihoods from agriculture (DSDSR, 2003:2-3).As such the government identified the rural agricultural sector as a key sector in reducing rural poverty (PRSP, 2003).
In the sector’s strategy, it is stipulated that, the government should stay out of all direct production activities while supporting ‘private operators to foster production, secure population revenue and food security by modernizing production equipments through medium and long term financing among others’ (PRSP,2003:xiii). With this in focus, NSPMS 1 considered to be the priority program for the development of the rural sector was launched in October 2004. NSPMS seeks to develop group production activities by providing financial, technical and material inputs alongside commercialization channels and negotiations such as to increase production and maximize all opportunities in the sector while increasing farmers’ revenues (NEPAD, 2004). The development of group production is based on the assumption that, when organized as a group, farmers can mutually reinforce each other and, landless farmers can benefit access to land which otherwise will be impossible (Kengné, 2003). In this way, group production is one of the most effective ways of reaching out to majority if not, all farmers in a community (ibid.)
From this perspective, NSPMS on the one hand supports rural maize farmers on the conditions that, they are legally registered as farming groups, have an account with a Credit Union or a Bank 2 , show proof of land ownership or permanent access and, apply for the grants. These conditions hold whereas, on the other hand, Cameroon as demonstrated by Fisiy (1992) is one of those African countries where the distinction between statutory and customary land tenure is blurred providing formal legal recognition of
1 Best known by its French acronym (PNAFM) which represents Program Nationale d’appui á la Filliere Maize 2 Recent measure taken to curb corruption.
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