Fair Fruit

In 2003, during a field raid in the Moungo area of Cameroon’s Littoral Region, RELUFA was informed that 44 people had been wrongfully expropriated from their land by a multinational company.

During years of field visits and information gathering on the project, it became clear that the problem was not only related to the land taken from the farmers: working conditions were harsh and poorly paid, the use of various pesticides had an impact on the health of workers and the local population, the multinational was dumping products that did not meet European Union standards onto the local market at very low prices, and so on.

The Fair Fruit project was set up in 2008 with the overall aim of: drawing the attention of the national and international community to the negative impact of agro-industries on local populations; improving the living conditions of affected farmers.

To achieve these objectives, it was therefore a matter of publicizing the story of these farmers on a national and international scale and providing them with legal assistance, to provide an alternative source of income for directly affected farmers and local youth.

This project involved the purchase of  fresh fruit from  the planters involved in the project.  The fruit was purchased at  fair prices, above those prevailing on the market. The fruit was sold by the growers in accordance with an agreement between RELUFA, the growers and the drying unit. The fruit (mango, pineapple, papaya and banana) was processed into dried fruit in the drying unit by local young people and women forming a GIC (Groupement d’Intérêt Communautaire). This  had enabled everyone involved in the production process to have a stable income.

Activities and results obtained

  • Fair Fruit as an alternative source of Income for farmers and young people in the locality of Njombé.

With a view to achieving the above objectives, several activities were carried out. RELUFA supported the creation of a drying unit. The purchase of drying equipment, the construction of the drying unit and the training of young people in fruit drying were the main steps in the creation of this unit.

To ensure international and national sales of the dried fruit, we developed an attractive packaging model in line with the requirements of the American authorities, analyzed the nutritional value of each fruit, and worked with Partners For Just Trade (PJT) and Mains Unies partners to find markets in the USA.

Since mid-2008, RELUFA fruit has been shipped to the USA, where it is marketed by Partners For Just Trade, with the option of buying online. They are very popular with consumers. At the same time, they are being sold in Cameroon, either in local supermarkets, or in the offices of RELUFA and its partners (CED, ACDIC, Peace Corps), or in embassies (notably American), or in hotels, or at fairs and other events (American school, Comice agropastoral d’Ebolowa 2010, Promote 2011). We can see that at national level, they arouse a great deal of interest, and are very well received by consumers.

Aiming to become part of a fair trade system, the growers were also supported in the switch to organic fruit production. RELUFA also provided support for the purchase of motorized irrigation pumps to help develop production. In fact, RELUFA subsidized 50% of the cost of the motor pumps and granted a microcredit to farmers for the other part of the cost of the motor pump through its CAP (Credit Against Poverty) program.

  • Fair Fruit as an advocacy tool for the payment of compensation to affected farmers

RELUFA supported farmers in criminal proceedings to obtain their compensation.  To this end, in collaboration with the Center for Environment and Development (CED), lawyers were made available to farmers, unfortunately the outcome was not favorable due to influence peddling.

In addition, the inclusion of the farmers’ story on the packaging prompted some foreign investors to call the multinational in question to account. As a result, some growers were partially compensated in 2013.

This project also served as the basis for the production of a documentary film entitled ” la banane “. Denouncing an exploitation of the community’s human and natural resources with no real gain for the local population, this film was widely distributed, and the broadcast that could have created a change was the one made in front of the European Parliament.

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