Mobilisation and capacity building for SMEs involved in the production and commercialisation of non-wood forest products in Central Africa

African woman slicing gnetum at a local market

This project, titled ‘Mobilisation and capacity building for small and medium scale enterprises involved in the production and commercialisation of non-wood forest products (NWFP) in Central Africa (GCP/RAF/408/EC Project)’, is financed by the European Union for a period of four years (2007-2010). The project aims at increasing the revenues of rural populations by building enterpreneurial capacities and ensuring sustainable resource management within enabling institutional settings.

The project is being implemented in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) , the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) . FAO is coordinating the project to ensure the efficient intervention of all partners towards the achievement of project objectives.

The project supports the Executive Secretariat of the Central Africa Forestry Commission (COMIFAC) and its member countries to improve the capacity of small and medium enterprises based on NWFP and develop the appropriate policies for sustainable development of the NWFP sector in the region. The project started in 2007 for duration of 4 years, and will be implemented in:

  • four sites in Cameroon: Center-South-Littoral Province, North-West Province, South-West-West Province and East Province.
  • three sites in Democratic Republic of Congo: Kinshasa, Equateur and Bas-Congo. 

Main objectives of the project

  • Ensure increased revenue for local producers/groups based on key NWFP production and commercialization.
  • Improve entrepreneurial and marketing skills.
  • Ensure sustainable resource production and harvesting techniques.
  • Improve processing for local value addition.
  • Improve access to market information & credit.
  • Provide an enabling policy and institutional environment.

The strategic pathways to be followed by the project include: local value addition, raising awareness, direct support to regeneration efforts/business start-ups/monitoring, revision of legal provisions and where possible assist in the process to secure export licenses by organised local associations. Caution is paid to gradually move into advanced transformation stages to standardise products for local, regional and international markets. This serves as a risk aversion strategy in terms of possibility of business/market failures and/or rejection by local people. The project concentrates on strengthening existing associations and institutions within six thematic areas, notably:

  • Knowledge of resource stock for business investment decisions. Local expertise exists on resource assessment and would be explored by the project.
  • Level of transformation and packaging could add value for producers and exporters in the country with consequences for greater employment and capture of benefits.
  • Production in terms of increasing planting and nursery operations. Increasing production, resource access and reducing transaction costs are unavoidable milestones to attain. Producing quality products of uniform grade are cornerstones for business development.
  • Business skills and market organisation. Improve market performance in terms of exploring benefits from trade related instruments such as certification. Improve market information and know better what consumers want, stimulate forms of associations between small entrepreneurs and relevant service providers, etc.
  • Legal procedures and institutional hurdles. Improve institutional supports and removal of bottlenecks in permit systems and transport products for NWFP needs to be adapted to business realities.
  • Access to Capital and equipment. Facilitate access to credits and provide pilot transformation units to articulate interests and build capacities.
Non-timber forest products in Central Africa


The target groups of the project are:

  • Private sector (SMFEs and other private actors involved in the forest sector)
  • People’s organizations
  • Governmental and non-governmental organizations
  • Regional institutions
  • Business development services providers
  • Research institutions

Project impacts

  • Socio-economic: 151 SME created and supported, over 3500 direct beneficiaries, 40% women; 35% increase in income etc.
  • Political/institutional: Letter of appreciation from the Cameroonian minister in charge of forestry to FAO and EU, FAO as leader of NWFP theme in the process of revising the forestry law in the Central African region, FAO takes leadership in setting up NWFP working groups, recommendations of the project included in the annual report of Forest and environment sector Programme of MINFOF, results of the project used to argument the removal of the CITES ban on Prunus africana export from Cameroon etc.
  • Environmental: 75 nurseries created and supported, producing over 1,500,000 seedlings of key NWFP for integration into agro-ecosystems, extension of appropriate harvesting practices for key NWFPs, etc.
  • Technological: Design and production of bush-mango splitting machines, design and sensitization on market information systems for NWFP.
  • Scientific: Six international conference papers presented including COFO 2010, IUFRO and World Forestry Congress; six scientific articles submitted to international journals; over 30 other publications. 

Policy Briefs

Policy briefs on “Mobilization and capacity-building for small and medium-scale enterprises involved in the non-wood forest products value chains in Central Africa”:

Other related reports and publications

For further information please contact:

Tieguhong Julius Chupezi
Regional Project Coordinator and
National Coordinator for Cameroon
FAO Representation to Cameroon
P.B 281 Yaoundé
Telephone: +237 22 20 24 72
Telefax: +237 22 20 48 11


Useni Kembolo Marcel
National Coordinator for the
Democratic Republic of Congo
936 Blvd du 30 Juin
BP 16096, Gombe, Kinshasa 1
Telephone: +243 81 260 6089
Telefax: +243 81 146 8353


 Jeremie Mbairamadji
Forestry Officer
Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division
Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla- 00153 Rome-Italy
Tel. +3906-570 53603
Fax. +39 06-570 55514



last updated:  Tuesday, July 29, 2014