Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch (CAMGEW), Kilum-Ijim forest, Oku White Honey.

By Bakah Derick in Bamenda

Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch (CAMGEW) has emerge winner of the 2018 Cameroon Energy Globe Award.
The award that distinguishes projects regionally, nationally and globally that conserves resources such as energy or utilizes renewable or emission-free sources, recognized CAMGEW recently for outstanding conception and implementation of a project named “Kilum-Ijim forest conservation and green value chain development for Oku White Honey.”

Forest Management Institutions FMI Executives
 Recognised today as the most prestigious environmental prize worldwide, The Energy Globe Award aims at raising global attention on sustainable environmental solutions and to motivate people to also become active in this area.
Talking to the Director of the Oku based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) recently in Bamenda, he disclosed that the award comes as a result of over six years of dedicated work in the Kilum-Ijim forest area.
CAMGEW from 2012 to 2018, planted 72.400 bee loving trees in the Kilum-Ijim forest and trained 930 bee farmers in honey production and bees wax extraction. We have also distributed above 730 local beehives to trained bee farmers and organized more than 1000 bee farmers into 5 Oku White Honey cooperatives located around Kilum-Ijim forest(at Atumikui in Belo, Mutteff in Fundong, Akeh in Fundong, Muloin in Njinikom, Vekovi in Jakiri) and provided them with technical and material support." These cooperatives he added “which are in the process of legalisation have come to add to existing cooperatives in Oku making a total of six cooperatives in existence. 610 farmers have also been trained on agro-forestry techniques to increase crop production and conserve the soil. As of December 2017 about 987 women have been receiving training on business skills and 907 women gotten financial assistance in form of loans. 24 teenage boys and girls have been trained on dress making, shoe making and hair dressing in Oku. CAMGEW has also developed three tree nurseries with more than 150.000 trees. CAMGEW has a honeyshop in Bamenda where bee farmers honey is converted to money to fight poverty, unemployment and better protection of the forest.”  CAMGEW Director Wirsiy Emmanuel Binyuy Apiculture and Nature Conservation Campaigner explained.
Bee farmers
As to why the choice of the Kilum-Ijim forest for his institution’s work he noted “The Kilum-Ijim forest had suffered from over exploitation of Prunus Africana that led to the ban on its exploitation in the Oku Community forest of Kilum forest because of poor exploitation and the fact that financial resources raised from the exploited trees never benefitted the local population. CAMGEW with Ministry of Forestry and wildlife (MINFOF), The Fon of Oku, Oku Council, Oku Divisional Officer, Oku Cultural and Development Association, Oku Community-based organisations and other stakeholders decided to engage in reorganizing the Forest Management Institutions of the six community forest in Oku.” This led to the election and installation of new executives which took office in April of 2018 after a high profile swearing in event attended by both local administrative and traditional authorities in all communities including Bikov Community forest in Jakiri Subdivision. The reorganization he added “started from Kilum forest this year and will continue to Ijim forest in the years ahead. With the new executive members of the seven Forest Management Institutions FMI of the seven community forest in place, work to better conserve the Kilum forest is assured because the community forest is own by the community and managed by the community although with supervisory rule of the state and traditional authorities. CAMGEW is working now with the various FMIs to protect the forest.” 
Bee farmers
To ensure the effectiveness of these structures “The FMI executive members and interested community members meet in Oku at the last Oku Market Day (Ngokse) of the Month every month to share ideas, learn, get information, exchange, socialize (eat, drink, play, crack jokes, play njangi and do savings). The same hold for Bikov Community forest every 17th Day of the month. The FMI in the seven community forest facilitated the planting of 1200 bee loving trees in their various community forest this July 2018. A total of 8400 bee loving trees have been planted in 2018 by Seven Community forest members and CAMGEW in the Kilum forest.”
CAMGEW facilitates these meetings during which the FMI executives of the seven community forest are reminded that their role is not just as ordinary as before (planting trees, commanding, carrying out patrols, stopping bushfire, exploiting Prunus) but they need to be true leaders who are selfless with creative and innovative minds to make the forest benefit community people in job creation, income generation, inclusivity and keep the forest for future generation. To do this, CAMGEW has agreed to assist them gain skills in fund raising, project development, entrepreneurial development, record keeping, leadership, and management and reporting.”
Celebrating his organisation’s award, Wirsiy Emmanuel expressed gratitude to his assistants Ngum Jai Raymond, Sevidzem Ernestine Leikeki, other support staff and partners Man and Nature – France and French – IUCN (PPI-FFEM), Bees for Development, Swisshand Foundation and others for financial support.
Created in October 2007, Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch (CAMGEW)  works on environmental and gender issues in Cameroon with the slogan “act locally and think globally, integrating gender in solving environmental problems.

About the Kilum-Ijim Forest
Kilum-Ijim forest is the largest remaining Montane forest found in the Bamenda Highland Region of Cameroon and is a biodiversity Hotspot for birds. Bannermans turraco is a special bird with red feathers that is used to decorate notables. This bird is critically endangered as seen in the IUCN Redlist. This forest produces a special type of honey called the Oku White Honey which is certified as Geographical Indication Product by African Intellectual Property Right Organisation. Only 2 of these products are certified in Cameroon with the other being the Penja White pepper. Kilum Mountain or better called Mount Oku is the second highest mountain in Cameroon and Central Africa after Mount Cameroon measuring 3011m. Kilum forest host the Oku Lake which is a crater lake falling along Mount Cameroon volcanic line. Oku Lake and surrounding forest host the Plantlife Sanctuary.
Derick BAKAH

Derick BAKAH

Bakah Derick is a Broadcast Presenter and Multimedia specialist with focus on sharing with the rest of the world the daily happenings in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. You can contact us on +237 675460750 or debakah2004@gmail.com.

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