Empowering Rural Youth and Women through Mushroom Cultivation for a Sustainable Development

Income generated from mushroom cultivation would enhance livelihoods and enable women and youth to contribute to community development

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Center for Development and Environmental Protection Cameroon

Year founded

2012

Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $1k - $10k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 100 - 250

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • Cameroon

Headquarters location: City

Bamenda and Buea (Cameroon)

Location(s) of impact

Bamenda: Kom, Wum, Ndop, Sabga and Mbengwi

Buea: Soppo, Bokwango, Bomaka and Muyuka

Website

http://www.cedepcameroon.yolasite.com

Facebook URL

http://www.facebook.com/cedepcameroon

Twitter URL

@cedepcameroon

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

This project is addressing the problem of rural poverty among women and youth. This is because women and youth consist the most vulnerable population in Cameroon (especially in rural areas) and they are often excluded in decision-making initiatives because it is assumed that they have nothing to offer. As a result of their poor state, most rural youth are migrating to already saturated urban communities, while women are subjected to different forms violence and are unable to promote the education of their children.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

The solution to this problem is training youth and women on mushroom cultivation as an income generating activity. This is a low cost business that requires a low start up capital and limited space. The issue of space is important to us because we have observed that most cultural norms and practices limit youth and women access to land.

Most importantly, mushroom takes a shorter time (24days) to start generating income, and there is already a market for their products. In order to ensure sustainability, we intend to buy their produce.
Also, mushroom cultivation takes less time (2days) and energy; so youth and women can engage in other activities while making money.

Training will comprise of lectures on mushroom farming and the nutritional value of mushroom. Practical session will involve the use of different substrate materials for cultivation, and on harvesting, processing, packaging and marketing mushroom. Beneficiaries will also be trained on basic bookkeeping

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Socially, most of our beneficiaries are able to make money while engaging in other activities such as education. The stories of Beatrice (as narrated below) and other women show that women are getting involved in local associations in their communities. They are involved in rotating savings, and testified being able to contribute financially in projects like water and sanitation and road projects in the community. Also, income has increased and many more children are being sent to school.

Our activities are environmentally friendly in that we are able to recycle agricultural waste (such as corn stalk and saw dust) for money. We train our beneficiaries on how to dispose of the plastic bags used in cultivation. We discourage the use of chemical fertiliser since it is harm harmful to our health.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Our mushroom project has been receiving financial and material support from different sources. Firstly, we obtain material support like agricultural waste and other local materials from beneficiaries (20%). Mushroom farming has a quick turnover, so a bulk of our finances is obtained from the sales of the mushroom and its products (60%), meanwhile we also receive assistance through grants (30%).

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Our products are organic, and we are also training our beneficiaries on mushroom seed production and on different mushroom products such as mushroom tea and flour (which can be used to make biscuits) that are not available in our market. We are also providing a ready market for all products so that our beneficiaries do not get out of business.

Lastly, we intend to link beneficiaries to wider social networks like the Cameroon Mushroom Producers Network for wider exposure.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

The beginning of this project was almost frustrated by the absence of market, but the story turned positively when we decided to buy the product from the farmers. So far, the testimony stories of some of our farmers in Kom and Sabga, localities in the North West Region, continue to inspire us.

The testimony of Nange Beatrice is exceptional. Beatrice is a mother of 6 kids who lost her husband 4 years ago. She and her children were deprived of a basic livelihood because the Kom tradition does not allow a wives and children to inherit from their husbands and parents. CEDEP met and trained her on mushroom farming 3 years ago. With our ready market, she has been able to start to poultry and petty trading, and is able to send her children to school and provide their needs. Her next project is a home for her and her kids. We goal is to put smiles on many faces and make society a better place

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Photo of Festus Juma

This is a really simple but practical project idea!! I would like to link up wit you and replicate the idea in Kenya! Please contact me on festus.juma2015@gmail.com or sepkenya@yahoo.com