Since the start of cocoa farming for over seventy years in Cameroon the standard practice for drying cocoa beans has been to use firewood in producing the energy needed to heat cocoa ovens.
Exclusive reliance on wood as source of energy for heating cocoa ovens has three main drawbacks. The first is that the smoke can cause asthma in coffee farmers, thereby reducing their fitness for farm work, curtailing productivity, and rendering them poorer by saddling them with avoidable healthcare expenditures. The second drawback is that the smoke adversely affects the overall quality and flavour of cocoa beans dried on wood-fired ovens. The third disadvantage is the deforestation of the natural environment that results from systematic harvesting of wood not only to fire cocoa ovens but also for other sundry purposes.
It should be noted that Kuke Kombu village, like many rural and agricultural production zones of Cameroon, is without basic infrastructure such as a convenient transport and communication system, electricity, water system, etc. In view of the magnitude of infrastructure needs in the rural areas, the government relies increasingly on sharing responsibility in this sector with other development partners, especially self-help civil society groups like farmer organizations and non governmental organizations, as well with the international donor community.
The experimental introduction of solar energy to heat cocoa ovens and for other purposes in a rural context fits into the current liberalised energy sector of Cameroon and is consistent with the increasing recognition of the role of non-state development partners in addressing the diverse energy needs of the population, especially in the villages. Viewed in a global perspective, this project concept squares with global efforts to reduce environmental pollutants affecting climate phenomena, amongst others, such as stipulated in various United Nations Conventions, including the Kyoto Protocol.
4.1. Broad objective
To explore the feasibility and replicability of using solar power for heating cocoa ovens and for household purposes in a remote village setting of Cameroon so as to contribute to global efforts to reduce pollution of the natural environment by curbing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere in line with United Nations Conventions relating to environmental protection.
4.2. Specific objectives
To improve the health status of cocoa growers in the pilot village by reducing the incidence of smoke-related illnesses
To curb the rate of deforestation in the targeted village through provision of a renewable and non-polluting alternative source of power non dependent on the use of firewood to heat cocoa ovens and for other household needs;