Safeguarding the Ngwei Forest Areas (Cameroon) by Increased Oil Palm Productivity and Production Factors
Achille Jean Jaza Folefack1, Dietrich Darr2, Marie Gaelle Ngo Njiki1
1University of Dschang, Dept. of Agricultural Economics, Cameroon
Due to increased world demand for palm oil and suitable conditions for oil palm production, Cameroon has witnessed a sharp rise in oil palm plantations since 2009. Unfortunately, their expansion represents a threat to forest landscapes, wildlife biodiversity and the environment and contributes to deforestation and degradation of natural forests. Hence, this study aims to model the most convenient economic and environmental alternative to smallholder farmers willing to conserve the forest while simultaneously producing oil palm so as to earn high returns. The study uses secondary and primary data collected from April to September 2016 in the Ngwei forest areas of Cameroon, where 216 smallholder farmers were randomly selected in the Makondo and Ndjockloumbé villages. Data on input and output levels as well as prices of oil palm and forest products were analysed using a Linear Programming (LP) technique to compute the number of hectares of land to be allocated to the forest and/or oil palm activities so as to maximise the social welfare, given the constraints of available resources of land, labour, capital and oil palm trees. From the field survey results, a smallholder farmer uses on average 15 ha of land, 8760 mandays of labour, 880250 FCFA of capital, and 1429 oil palm plants per cropping season. The preliminary LP results suggest that a socially efficient outcome is achieved when smallholder farmers use 9.993 ha of land (67% of land availability) for oil palm cultivation and 5.007 ha (33% of land availability) for forest conservation. The sensitivity LP analysis, however, suggests that, a higher proportion of forest land could be conserved if smallholder farmers were encouraged and supported to increase the productivity of their plantations through the offer of improved seed varieties, good farm maintenance or mechanisation, farm technology innovation, and improved farming conditions. The government policy should support such economically and environmentally more sustainable solutions, which enable smallholder farmers to earn similar or higher returns while preserving the environment.
Keywords: Forest, linear programming, oil palm, smallholder farmer
Contact Address: Achille Jean Jaza Folefack, University of Dschang, Dept. of Agricultural Economics, P.O. Box 222, Dschang, Cameroon, e-mail: ajazafolyahoo.fr