Improving the lives of farmers
NOWEFOR was founded in 1995 as a farmers’ movement in the North West Region.
Its vision is to achieve a society where farmers are recognised, considered and involved in policy making that affects their livelihoods. Its mission is to unite farmers (men, women and young people) of the North West Region of Cameroon into a force that provides concrete services to enhance their agricultural activities, increase their incomes and participate in development initiatives in their communities.
It aims to promote and develop the economic activities of its members; enhance knowledge through capacity building; advocate for members’ interests regionally, nationally and internationally; improve access to health information; facilitate member access to lucrative and sustainable markets; improve member access to bespoke financial and business services; mainstream gender equity and equality.
- Membership and Grassroots approach: It is an associative company that unites 14 regional Farming Unions representing 2019 farmers and 140 Common Initiative Groups. The NOWEFOR Board is made up of representatives from the various regional Farming Unions who have been elected based on their merit and active contribution. Regional Unions continually identify local needs which inform project development. Monthly review and planning meetings are held. This ensures that real needs are addressed and a two way flow of information achieved.
- Structures and Management: NOWEFOR has three departments – production, marketing and microfinance with 8 permanent members of staff and 4 temporary staff. A strong, effective, active and democratically elected Board of Directors consists of 10 members 4 of which are women. An Executive Committee, made up of three Board Members and the Chair, oversees the work of the organisation. A small, enthusiastic team of staff achieve high outputs.
- Credibility and Transparency: The membership of NOWEFOR is made up of legally constituted Farming Unions in the North West Region and it continuously monitors and evaluates the effectiveness of its activities. A strong code of internal regulations, procedures and certified auditing ensures transparency and accountability. It has an excellent relationship with its international partners and has also worked with VSO to develop an Organisational Development Plan which has been shared with member Unions.
- Partnerships: NOWEFOR’s key international partners are SOS FAIM and Support Service to Grassroots Initiatives of Development (SAILD) and European Commission. Other valued partners include The America Peace Corps; VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), ICCO (Fair and Sustainable Economic Development) as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER) and the North West Association of Development Organizations (NWADO) and other local NGOs and Federations. Partnerships are actively nurtured, developed and consolidated.
- Status: NOWEFOR is regularly invited to share its experience at many local, national and international meetings e.g. at Intereseaux in Mali in 2007 to share best practice, Tunisia in 2008 and by SOS FAIM in Luxembourg to illustrate achievements. Nationally NOWEFOR was invited by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to present a paper on doubling food production and food supply security.
- Marketing and communication skills: NOWEFOR organises various publicity campaigns which include articles in the NWADO (North West Association of Development Organisations) newsletter and The Farmers Voice, radio talks, flyers, posters and regular use of the internet. A series of open days are held every year covering microfinance services, produce marketing, a co-operative approach and development as well as presenting information on NWEFOR services.
- Data Base: Regional Unions have data bases of farmers in their region and NOWEFOR is currently developing a central data base.
- Training and Resources: Training manuals and publications are distributed to members and regular training courses provided on a wide range of relevant topics. Videos are also used to inform.
- Production, Product Development and Marketing: NOWEFOR has achieved better access to market outlets. A Group Marketing Strategy has been adopted whereby farmers pool their produce and negotiate a single best price to avoid competition for buyers. This gives farmers a stronger bargaining voice in terms of selling, purchasing and costs and they are now securing lucrative, long term contracts with national buyers. Farmers are also able to carry out assessments of raw materials needed and organise themselves into groups to bulk purchase which has reduced costs and maximised profit. NOWEFOR facilitated the certification of seeds which has had a great effect on production as the high yielding seeds are also disease and pest free. General animal health and vaccination programmes have also been carried out.
- Capacity Building: there has been huge progress in building the capacity of farmers in areas such as crop and livestock production, new technologies, leadership and group dynamics. Work has been done, and continues to be done, in developing the capacity of NOWEFOR staff and leaders to achieve greater effect in defending member interests as well as making the organisation a good example as regards good governance and networking. Everyone knows their roles and their responsibilities.
- Needs Assessments: regional Farming Unions source local farming animateurs to facilitate needs assessments.
- Finance: NOWEFOR has provided loans and savings to members. The recruitment of a microfinance controller into the network has resulted in improved management. NOWEFOR has achieved European Commission funding, worth about 240 million cfa for 2008-2010, for production and livestock improvements.
- Networking and Communication: NOWEFOR has organised meetings to bring Civil Society organisations together and has also brought experts together to disseminate information to farmers. A presence at agricultural shows has ensured that farmers are informed of NOWEFOR’s work.
- Training and Workshops: A wide range of training and refresher courses have been provided covering all aspects of management and production in market gardening, livestock production, finance and health care. Farmers are also trained to train other farmers. Videos have also been used to encourage innovation in areas such as ginger marketing, Irish potato production etc. Manuals on various topics have also been distributed. Capacity building, information sharing and relationship building workshops are also organised.
- Advocacy and Activism: NOWEFOR provides a united voice for farmers, proactively opposes detrimental developments eg importation of frozen chickens and participates in Labour Day activities.
- National Volunteering and Student support: NOWEFOR is one of the four partner organisations in promoting a National Volunteering Scheme for Cameroon and has worked successfully over the past decade with a large number of National Volunteers. Currently there are six National Volunteers, 2 VSO volunteers and 3 International Peace Corps volunteers. NOWEFOR has also hosted undergraduate students from Cameroon Universities and International students researching agricultural production and micro finance.
Organizational Chart :