Parliamentary question by Olivier Dupuis (ARE) to the Commission answer given by Mr Pinheiro on behalf of the Commission

Parliamentary questions
by Olivier Dupuis (ARE) to the Commission
(4 March 1998)

Subject: Conflict between agriculture and wildlife in Cameroon

The conversion of natural ecosystems into agricultural land is undoubtedly the primary ecological problem facing Africa today and it is also the greatest threat to the biodiversity of the continent. Increasing numbers of experts consider that more effective use of natural resources, in particular wildlife, is the only solution to this serious human and ecological problem.

Paradoxically, in Cameroon it would appear that for several years the French Government has subsidized the production of cotton, which has adverse effects on the natural ecosystems (soil degeneration) and on wildlife but is very profitable for the farmers.

Is the Commission aware of this problem? Can it approach the French government so that the long-term social, economic and ecological impacts of these strategies are assessed? Does the Commission not consider that the experiments developed in southern Africa (more effective use of wildlife) could help to provide solutions?

Answer given by Mr Pinheiro
on behalf of the Commission
(26 March 1998)

Both the Commission and Member States share the concerns the Honourable Member voices over the economic, social and environmental impact of cotton-growing.

The question he raises relates to French bilateral aid and so the Commission would suggest that he ask the French authorities direct what impact cotton farming is having in northern Cameroon.

That aside, the Commission would point out that for the past ten or so years it has been involved in funding major programmes in Cameroon and central Africa more generally. The programmes, designed to encourage rational use of forestry ecosystems, aim to preserve biodiversity and make more effective use of wildlife.