Driving a dual agenda of social-economic development and ecological conservation, we’re proud to launch our Cameroon Outgrower Programme.
The Cameroon Outgrower Programme is our next step in improving the livelihoods and economic viability of local communities with a long-term outlook. In line with the Group’s Sustainable Natural Rubber Supply Chain Policy (SNRSCP), this programme will educate and empower on a large scale, aiming to benefit approximately 13,000 local Cameroonian smallholders. These smallholders will have the opportunity to develop integrated farms around a core of natural rubber, benefiting from financial and technical support, and the guaranteed purchasing of the raw material.
We are actively engaging with village-based smallholders with a minimum land area of 2 ha, and are pleased to see that the programme is already gathering momentum locally with interest from over 2,500 individuals so far. Meanwhile, our social and environmental checklist will assess the eligibility of candidates according to our sustainability commitments.
Up to 27,000 hectares of land has been selected for the initiative, with the first year planting of 750 Ha on track to start in August 2019. All land selected must strictly comply with Corrie MacColl’s sustainability policy commitments concerning degraded forest, fallow land, the replanting of old rubber or the conversion of other crops. High quality rubber clones and planting material will be provided directly from Hevecam and Sudcam nurseries.
Integrated farming will provide additional food security and income opportunities for the smallholders. Cash crops are planted in between the rubber tree rows and are viable for the first 3 years whilst the rubber canopy is still developing. Livestock also plays a critical role in providing continuous income throughout the plantation lifecycle, in particular the down period of years 4 to 7 when cash crops have stopped and the rubber trees are still maturing.
The following cash crops and livestock have been identified as optimum choices for rubber: plantain, maize, red beans, groundnuts and watermelon, as well as chickens, pigs and fish.
We have engaged Proforest Limited to develop the candidate and land criteria, an NGO specializing in natural resource management and practical approaches to sustainability. Proforest will develop the onboarding criteria to ensure compliance with our sustainability policy commitments of zero deforestation commitment in Cameroon. At later stages, they will train local Sudcam and Hevecam teams to perform the onboarding assessments against this checklist. Considering social and environmental factors, the checklist will be employed to assess clauses such as the land-use by nearby communities, any documented evidence of land acquisition and its significance as a habitat or legally protected area.
Financial Access, a financial services firm dedicated to emerging markets, will support the programme through agri-finance at farmer and higher value chain levels, as well as multisector supply chain finance solutions. The team will review the financial models of the 8 intercropped farming plans, and will provide recommendations on blended financing schemes for scale-up of the Outgrower Programme. A data collection tool will also be developed by Financial Access to provide baseline environmental and credit risk assessments for smallholders during the onboarding process, with the local teams trained in the implementation of this tool.
A technical ground team that includes the operational manager, field agents, farm supervisors and controllers will be responsible for all agriculture operations being carried out at the field level. Our team will teach agronomical best practices to ensure that maximum yields are realised, and comprehensive documentation and training will be provided on loan management in order to minimise loan defaults. We are also in discussion with local NGOs, including SAILD, to provide technical support and materials for crops and livestock and have interest from local fertilizer companies to provide training and distribution support.