This post was written by Fernanda Maschietto. Fernanda joined us for one month as part of a 6-month trip, looking at different sustainable agriculture/development initiatives and working with organic farmers in Cameroon, Europe and South East Asia. Pretty awesome, right?! ‘Roots could not have been happier that she attached some time in Cameroon towards the end of her trip. Thank you, Fe, for your insight, positive outlook, knowledge, and your friendship. We can’t wait to see you again! Bon voyage back home to Brazil!
I came to Cameroon to learn about organic agriculture and fair trade in the field. I arrived at Utamtsi/GIC Sondason office in Bafoussam in the middle of a meeting with about 20 farmers and my first impression was a warm welcome from everyone in the cooperative, already making me feel part of the group. I kept seeing this sense of community throughout the month that I spent in Cameroon, and I believe it is one of the secrets of the success of Utamtsi.
In this post, I would like to share some examples of how the Utamtsi’s work goes beyond the organic practices in the field and reaches a growing community, an essential part of making agro-ecology and fair trade a sustainable alternative.
First of all, Utamtsi operates in Cameroon through the GIC Sondason, a cooperative. That already tells us what to expect: Utamtsi transfers knowledge on organic practices, financial education, and so forth. The farmers then exchange information and cooperate amongst themselves. The relationship between Utamtsi and the farmers is very close. There are frequent meetings in the villages and, almost everyday, there are farmers in the office in Bafoussam who have come to ask questions and discuss ideas. Among the visits to the villages, the ones that surprised me the most were the meetings with farmers that are not yet part of the cooperative. After talking to other farmers, they were convinced about the advantages of using organic products to improve their yields and the health of their families. They wanted to be part of the group.
Another interesting experience here was seeing the work Utamtsi is doing to involve the academic community in the region. They started an experimental field in the University of Dschang to show how organic farming can be more productive than traditional farming. Also, they held a International Conference about Sustainable Development (see post) for the second year in the university, contributing to the longevity of this thematic discussion since it is still new in Cameroon.
Finally, I was able to partake in the visit of a group of Germans, organized by Utamtsi, to Cameroon. Their objective for the trip was to learn about the coffee making and purchasing process—to know where the coffee they drink comes from and who produces it. This interaction between consumers and producers was something amazing to witness and unfortunately not many companies can be as transparent as Utamtsi.
These were just a few examples of some of Utamtsi’s partnerships and trustworthy and fair trade business practices, and I couldn’t be more thankful to them and to the CameroonianRoots team for making my visit to Cameroon full of discoveries and inspirations!Back to top