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Empowering women’s capacity for improved livelihoods in non-timber forest product trade in Cameroon
In Cameroon, women as the primary gatherers and traders of non-timber forestproducts (NTFPs) have limited access to processing technologies, marketing strategiesand market information. The objective of this paper is to explore how CIFOR researchand capacity building implemented from 2000 have been perceived by Camerooniantraders. An evaluation of the program took place in 2006 with thirty-eight traders outof seventy-two traders trained. Of the traders initially interviewed, 95 percent of themwere women. Eighty-one percent of traders said their incomes increased as a result ofthe training received, 11 percent of traders mentioned a negative impact and 8 percentreported no impact. The average increase in income for those who benefited was 55percent. The quantity of, and revenues obtained from, NTFPs increased from 2003 to2004, but declined in 2005. These changes were related to decline or growth ingathering NTFPs, changes in demand, increased competition in the marketplace andpoor health of the traders. The revenue gained from NTFPs was used for basichousehold needs—school fees, food and health costs. Investments in homeimprovements and household goods were also popular, but many traders also investedin phones, televisions and radios. These results indicate that a capacity buildingprogramme could reduce the constraints faced by traders by providing them withmarketing information, accounting tools and processing and storage technology skills.A cost effective market information system could then be developed and scaled up.