Yaounde, Cameroon– As agriculture remains the main sector of the economy in the region of Central Africa, a capacity building workshop on advocacy and negotiation of peasant organisations and parliamentarians on the issue of land acquisition on a large scale in investments in Central Africa, took place in Yaounde, Cameroon, from 11-13 March 2015.
The workshop was organised by the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), the Plateforme Sous-Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale (PROPAC) and the National Assembly of Cameroon, in cooperation with the International Institute for Sustainable development(IISD), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Oxfam International, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development(CIRAD) and AWEPA.
The training was designed to help participants understand the legal and political frameworks surrounding agricultural investment, learn how to prepare for negotiations on agricultural investment, and design an investment agreement from the point of view of sustainable development. Above all, participants were given the opportunity to increase their knowledge on the topic and strengthen their negotiating skills in order to better defend their rights.
The workshop also explored alternative business models for investment in agriculture, including contract farming, systems of subcontracting, joint ventures and long-term land leases.
By encouraging open dialogue between parliamentarians and farmers’ organisations, the workshop constituted an opportunity for participants to share their concerns regarding development, and exchange knowledge and questions on policies, security and sovereignty.
“The Earth is our main resource. The sun is free, and sometimes water is too. We must preserve our planet, so that it can continue to provide richness and well-being for future generations. We need development, but not at any price. We are not against investors, but we want them to work with us in the spirit of collaboration and mutual understanding.”
His Excellency Essimi Menye Lazare, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Cameroon
“This second stage provides the opportunity to improve understanding of agricultural investment and potential agreements.”
Rt. Hon. Vincente Mavoungou-Bouyou President of the Parliament of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC)
“If not controlled, large-scale land acquisitions can damage family agriculture. It is necessary to build win-win partnerships between governments, companies and the people, in order to guarantee land tenure for local populations.”
Ms. Elisabeth Atangana, President of the Regional Platform of Farmers Organisations of Central Africa (PROPAC)