Multiple Projects Improving Livelihoods At Limbe
Limbe Botanic Garden (LBG) in Cameroon runs many activities linking biodiversity research and development. Since 1992 Limbe has run a programme to domesticate some local ornamental species, such as Clerodendrum thomsonii, with the aim of developing low technology cultivation techniques to transfer to local communities for the cultivation of cut flowers with high value.
It also runs a project to provide fuel wood for communities through nurseries that are tended by women, which improves the livelihoods and status of women, as well as ensuring sustainable fuel supplies. In 1994 the Mount Cameroon Project (MCP) was established here to focus specifically on the conservation of biodiversity and livelihood improvement for rural communities in the region.
LBG has a ‘Conservation through Cultivation’ programme that works for the conservation of threatened useful wild species. It has long been involved with promoting ex situ cultivation of Eru, to reduce pressure on wild stock and to improve the livelihoods of rural farmers through the sale and consumption of the vegetable. Eru (Gnetum africanum and G.buchholzianum) is a climbing rainforest vine of West and Central Africa that is used as a highly priced vegetable but is threatened by the excessive pressures of wild-harvesting. Its protein content is high, so it can play an important role in preventing malnutrition, and it is also thought to have medicinal qualities. It is locally popular within Cameroon, and tonnes of it is also regularly exported to Nigeria and beyond, which supports the employment of thousands of people.
LBG developed domestication techniques for inclusion in local agroforestry systems, using trial plots and gene banks. It then went on to train relevant community members using theoretical and practical techniques starting at the Bimbia Bonadikombo area, and books were printed for literate farmers.
LBG maintains strong links with the farmers who are involved in the cultivation of the crop, which helps with further research into its domestication.
Institutional partnerships also help it to understand and spread knowledge about Eru. For example, the garden has worked with the Cameroon Ministry of Agriculture and socio-economists from a local World Bank surveys unit to provide extension support.
In 2004 LBG was supported by BGCI to further extend this programme, in a project to train 30 farmers and two agricultural extension workers, and to establish two nurseries and two demonstration farms.
Sources: Ewane (2001), Otsubo (1999),
Ndam & Sunderland (1997).