Assessing Fuelwood Production, Distribution and Marketing processes in Buea urban
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The study focused on the assessment of fuelwood production, distribution and marketing processes in the Buea Municipality of the South West region of Cameroon. The data for this study was acquired from both primary and secondary sources. Primary data was obtained through a structured interview and questionnaire survey.
The study made use of random sampling technique for the administration of questionnaires. The data were analyzed using descriptive inferential statistics. The study revealed that rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) is the dominant tree used for fuelwood in Buea urban. Other tree species that are used for fuelwood in the area include Acacia (Italy), and Elm. Also, findings revealed that fuelwood production is higher during the dry season where there is easy access into the forest and plantations. Result revealed that the income obtained from the sales of fuelwood is dependent on the local knowledge of the impact of fuelwood harvesting on the environment
The concept of fuelwood is not a new one as it originally appeared back in the late 18century. Wood materials of plants have been the primary source of energy since the appearance of man on earth (Ram P et al., 2016). Until roughly the middle of the nineteenth century, Wood was used everywhere as the principal source of energy, even in North America and Europe. It has long been steadily replaced by a cheaper, more efficient and convenient source of fuel. Although, it was probably not until the early twentieth century that wood lost its place as the main source of fuel in rural areas of most industrialized countries. Yet in less developed countries, much less unable to afford alternative sources of energy, Wood has remained a dominant fuel. Particularly in rural areas wood is the preferred forms of domestic energy, largely because it doesn’t require complete expensive equipment (Arnold et al., 2003).
There are valid definitions of fuelwood which varies from one individual to another and from one organization to another. According to Mirriam. (1828) fuelwood is wood used for fuel. Babatunde. (2017) defines fuelwood as a traditional source of energy which is derived by burning wood materials like logs and twigs and has remained the major source of energy for over half of the world’s population.
Fuelwood is also known as firewood which has long been a traditional form of energy for cooking, heating, is still used in many parts of the world today. Globally, forests are estimated to cover 4 billion ha, covering about 30% of the world’s land area (Mekonnen., 1996). Nearly 3 billion people worldwide depend on fuelwood as their main source of energy. By 1990s fuelwood as energy source accounted for 90% of the energy consumed for cooking and heating in the world (FAO.,1995).
It was estimated by Broadhead et al. (2001) that the global production of fuelwood will increase moderately from 1885 million m³ in 2000 to 1921 million Cubic meters in 2010 and 1954 million m³. Also, it was estimated by Broadhead et al. (2001) that the tropics will consume about 1400 million m³ of fuelwood each year. While around 40 million metric tons of charcoal will be produced. With global charcoal in tropical countries being between a quarter and a half of firewood supply base on wood-to
charcoal conversion rate. Apart from the projected future increase in fuelwood consumption in developed, developing and emerging countries like Brazil, China, India and South Africa among others, are likely to increase their fuelwood consumption in the future (Arnold and Jongma., 1978).
Available data on fuelwood production are based largely on estimates, as the greater part of fuelwood production and consumption occurs outside commercial channels and thus goes unrecorded (Arnold and Jongma.,1978). The firewood market is growing rapidly in developed countries as about 150 million Cubic meters if fuelwood is used annually. This increase is due to the demand for modern log stove. For example, more than 200,000 UK homeowners installed wood-burning stoves to heat their homes during winter because its 77% cheaper to run than an equivalent output electric fire, 29% cheaper than gas (Arnold and Jongma., 1978).
In developing countries, the dependence in fuelwood is much greater, providing 33% of the total energy. In these countries, both in urban as well as rural areas, fuelwood is usually the principal source of energy for cooking and keeping warm. About 86% of wood produced annually is used as fuel. About two million metric tons of fuelwood and charcoal are consumed daily in developing countries (Porkong et al., 2003).
In Africa, wood production increased from 340 million Cubic meters in 1987 to 699 million Cubic meters in 2000. About 91%of the wood produced is used as fuel, which is the major household energy source (FAO, 2006). According to the best current estimate, Africa fuelwood consumption has reached 623 million Cubic meters in 1995. This implies that Africa has the highest per capita fuelwood consumption (0.89 m) compared to other continents such as Asia with 0.3 m/year. Except for the five North African countries and South Africa, all African countries still depend heavily on wood energy to meet their basic needs. For example, in the Congo basin, approximately 90% of all wood removed from African forest are estimated to be used for fuelwood largely for home cooking (Eba et al., 2016).
Cameroon is one of the African countries that is blessed with a vast forest. Among the Congo Basin countries, Cameroon holds the fourth largest amount of dense tropical forest after the Democratic Republic of Congo. This provides the country with a lot of forest biomass such as fuelwood and wildlife. In Cameroon, about 80% of the population depends on fuelwood as a source of energy (Eba et al., 2016). Almost all of the rural communities in Cameroon depend on fuelwood for energy. With the increasing demand for energy where there has been an increase in the production of fuelwood. It is estimated that 2.2million metric tons of fuelwood are consumed annually in urban areas in Cameroon. According to the ministry of energy and water,(MINEE.,2010) fuelwood consumption increased from 1981/1982 to 2001/2002 at an annual rate of 2.67% (Atyi et al.,2016).
In the study area which is Buea, it’s an area which is rich in forest potentials in Cameroon. Old records reveal that forest in this area has existed since the 16 century. An area is a place endowed with tropical rainforest, at the slope of the mountain with a variety of plant species which provide the area with fuelwood resources. The main supply of fuelwood is from the rubber plantation, with others coming from farmlands and the forest.
Though not adequately documented, due to perhaps limited data, fuelwood production has always played a significant role in the economic development of the continent. In Cameroon, particularly Buea it faced a lot of problems in the execution of this role.
The distribution of fuelwood from the point of production to the point of consumption within Buea municipality is not well documented. This is partly because a greater part of fuelwood produced and consumed occur outside commercial channels and thus goes unrecorded. Much of the known Supply chain of fuelwood comes from the rubber plantation as a production source to the household as consumers, yet data on this trade is unavailable on the most part.
Also, there has been progressively heavy depletion of fuelwood within the Buea community due to rapid urbanization, deforestation, widespread poverty. This has reduced the availability of fuelwood. Also due to the implication of the forest laws in Cameroon (1994), major portions of the forest are controlled by the government this has limited the access to fuelwood within the local community and also limited the production of fuelwood from natural forest.
Furthermore, seasonal variation is a problem of fuelwood production within Buea. The demand for fuelwood increases during festive periods because most household cook variety of meal during this period and will prefer to consume more if fuelwood in cooking because it’s cheaper compared to gas. The supply of fuelwood is likely to be scarce in the wet season because it is hard to gather and carry wood from the plantation and forest. The supply increases during the dry season since it’s easy to gather the dry wood from the forest and rubber plantations. In all, estimates of the production, distribution and marketing (fuelwood supply chain) in Buea urban in terms of quantity and income is undocumented and thus need to be investigated
The research is guided by the following questions which will help achieve the objective of the study.
1 What is the quantity of fuelwood produced within Buea urban?
2 What are the tree species that are used commonly as fuelwood?
3 Is there a seasonal variation in the supply and sales of fuelwood?
4 What is the income obtained from the sales of fuelwood?
5 What is the perceived impact of fuelwood harvesting on the environment?
The main aim of the study is to investigate the perception of small scale fuelwood production, distribution and marketing processes and this will be achieved with the help of some specific objective.
The main aim of the study
To investigate the perception of small scale fuelwood production; distribution and marketing processes in Buea urban
The aim of the research will be achieved through the following specific objective:
- To estimate the quantity of fuelwood that is produced in Buea urban and the tree species usually harvested.
- To estimate the quantity of fuelwood that is disturbed to the market.
- To determine how much income is obtained from the production and sales of fuelwood in Buea urban per month.
To determine the perceived impact of fuelwood harvesting on the environment.
This study is guided by the hypothesis that:
H0:The income from fuelwood sales is not dependent on knowledge of the impact of fuelwood harvesting on the environment.
H1: The income from fuelwood sales is dependent on the local knowledge of the impact of fuelwood harvesting on the environment.