With about half a million young women and a quarter of a million young men according to research, armed with the capacity to grow food, make goods, and provide services to others in Cameroon, several challenges pose as factors responsible for impeding the impact of their activities.
A study shows, these factors comprise of unemployment, poverty and underemployment, despite agriculture being a major source of labour and accounting for almost three-quarters (70%) of Cameroon’s workforce, (International Labour Office (ILO), 2014). A recent study carried out by Djomo Raoul under the IFAD funded IITA-CARE project, explored the contributions of young female grain farmers in rural Cameroon to the local economy.
While Cameroon’s agribusiness practice operates in a market economy way. Findings from the study, show that young female maize farmer-marketers pay more for farm labour than their male counterparts. An indication of their impact on the rural economy, unlike their rice farmer-marketers who, pay less than their male counterparts for labour, and a larger share of the women market their rice for higher prices than their male counterparts.
Although the female maize farmers pay more for labour, which is better for the local economy, it also means lower returns for them, unlike the male maize farmers who also have access to a credit facility. According to the study, when farm labour is paid a living wage, more of non-farm labour can also earn a living wage, as earnings are spent and earned and otherwise cycled through the local economy.
Where farm labour goes unpaid, fewer people can afford to purchase goods and services from others, so less money cycles through the local economy. Thus, those who pay for farm labour contribute more to their local rural economy than those who do not.
According to Djomo Raoul, in cases where farm labour goes unpaid, fewer people can afford to purchase goods and services from others, so less money circulates through the local economy. Making farmers who pay for labour, contributors to the local economy in the Far North Region, North Region and the West Region parts of Cameroon where the study was carried out, than those who do not.
The study also showed maize and rice production, and marketing in Northern and Western Cameroon contributing to higher standards of living among locals, raising local food security and promoting development in rural communities, where nearly half the population lives.
Findings from the study, reveal that the challenge of rural un- and underemployment, especially among young women, can be solved in part if more young Cameroonians choose agribusiness entrepreneurship. Young women can also be as productive, and successful as young men, especially at producing and marketing grains like maize and rice, if policymakers can establish enabling environments through gender-positive policies.