Land rights needed for agricultural development
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CTA. 2005. Land rights needed for agricultural development. Rural Radio Resource Pack 05/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57229
Susan Bamuh, President of the National Association of Professional Media Women in Cameroon discusses the importance of women being able to inherit and own land.
Land rights needed for agricultural development Cue: In Cameroon, the law on who can own land is very clear. It states that every adult person, whether man or woman, is entitled to own a piece of land, and to develop it the way they wish, within the rules set by the Ministry of Lands. But while the law may be clear, its effectiveness depends on how it is applied. And, according to Susan Bamuh, President of the National Association of Professional Media Women, often the application of the law is the responsibility of men. As a result, she says, women often lose out, unable to take ownership of land which may be rightly theirs, particularly when the land is passed on through inheritance. Susan spoke to Martha Chindong about the difficulty of owning land for women farmers in Cameroon, and the impact this is having on agricultural development in the country. She began by comparing the situations faced by married and unmarried women. IN: ?We have to look at this issue? OUT: ? someday you will get there.? DUR?N 4?33? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Susan Bamuh, President of the National Association of Professional Media Women in Cameroon was talking to Martha Chindong. Transcript Bamuh We have to look at this issue from two angles. We look at women who are not married, or girls whose parents, whose guardians will them property, they will have kick backs from their brothers because the tradition thinks it?s a man, it?s a boy, who is entitled to any piece of land. Then when you come to the married women it is worse, because quite often the woman will not have access to a piece of land that naturally should be hers, because that piece of land may have been willed by the husband to a relative. So it is still a big problem. And tradition is the root cause of this problem. Chindong So what is the impact of this problem on women farmers because I do not see them planting trees to prevent erosion from their farmlands because they do not own the land? Bamuh Well it is an unfortunate situation. The women are the farmers. 80% of Cameroon is made up of farmers and the women are in the majority. Unfortunately for them they do not own the land they work on. That therefore prevents them from carrying out some kind of sustainable form of agriculture. They cannot plant crops that will be there forever. They cannot plant cash crops that will bring them money. That will limit them just to subsistence agriculture; the return from that will not be much. And when that is done it affects not only the women, it affects the family, it affects the community, it affects the society and the poverty remains rife in our society. Chindong And more so, when the woman says she cannot own the piece of land, she hasn?t any land titles, she cannot even ask for loans from anywhere because there will be no collateral. Bamuh Yes it makes things really worse because, as you aptly put it, they do not have good loans from banks that will enable them to plough back into the agricultural domain, because of the absence of these collaterals. It makes things so bad for them because they cannot improve the agricultural process, and of course that affects the yield. Chindong So what has been the situation now considering that you have been raising your voices and bringing women?s problems into the limelight? What is the situation now? Bamuh We have seen a few women with education, with exposure, with interaction own land, which is registered in their name and they can manage this land. They can develop it the way they want. As I said the percentage is very very minimal and I think the women should roll up their sleeves, get back to work. We on our part as the National Association of Professional Media Women, we are still behind the Parliamentarians to see a law enforced in Cameroon to make inheritance, agricultural land especially, to favour the woman. Chindong Now you have said that the women themselves should fold their sleeves and go to work. What do you expect them to do? Bamuh Well these women should form themselves into groups. They should get some adult literacy kind of training, and as I say they can work in a group, because the team spirit is very important. Through the group you exchange ideas that will help in improving their lot. Chindong Is there anything that you would love to share concerning this that I have not asked? Bamuh The woman remains the backbone of the agricultural domain in Cameroon. This woman needs to be encouraged, and the encouragement should come from all angles. It should come from the government, it should come from the civil society, it should come from the NGO community, it should come from the private sector. There are lots of opportunities they could give these women, but it is a question of the women being assertive. The women should know what they need. There should be some kind of need assessment, then you go ahead and see how you can achieve these needs. You don?t need to start big. Start small, and I believe someday you will get there. End of track.