Coffee Hour with Richard Mbih Pastoralism: Challenges and Perspectives in the Western Highlands of Cameroon

Friday, November 3, 2017 - 3:30pm
Refreshments are offered in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m. The lecture begins in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m

poisoned cattle

Poisoned Fulani cattle in Bali Village: an act of retaliation by disgruntled local farmers whose crops were damaged in the Western Highlands of Cameroon

About the talk

Pastoralism is livestock production through extensive grazing on open access rangelands. It remains one of the oldest and main production systems in the world and is practiced mostly by semi-nomadic pastoral groups in Cameroon. Though pastoralism contributes immensely to the national revenue, food security, and employment opportunities, its future in the region is very uncertain. The government of Cameroon, like many other African governments, undermines nomadic culture through a landuse policy that fails to implement adequate policies to protect pastoralism and foster sustainable agro-pastoral development. In the Western Highlands of Cameroon where this project is based, pastoralism is endangered by population growth and infrastructural development, agricultural expansion, creation of protected areas, climate change, and persistent farmer-herder conflicts between local farming communities and Fulani pastoralists competing over declining agro-pastoral resources. Despite its precarious condition due to environmental degradation and disappearing pastureland, pastoralism has proven to support environmental sustainability if well managed to benefit local farming and grazing communities in the region. Such a development approach could be achieved through the implementation of better management policies by the state, NGOs, and local farmers and herders through agro-pastoral intensification practices involving crop-livestock integration. Apart from improving agro-pastoral production and household income, proper crop-livestock integration could lead to better climate-change resilience strategies, improved food quality and health, environmental conservation and protection of biodiversity in the region. These benefits could be reinforced by increase in the production of biogas using cow-dung, for cooking and heating, to replace firewood in agrarian communities. This paper based on field survey in Northwest Cameroon, identifies the importance, challenges, and the way forward for pastoralism and food crop cultivation among Fulani pastoral and farming communities across the Western Highlands of Cameroon.

About the speaker

Richard MbihRichard Mbih is an assistant teaching professor of African Studies at Penn State. He holds a Ph.D. in Geography and Social Sciences from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2015, and M.A. in Geography, and B.A. in Geography and History in 2010 and 2005 respectively from the University of Yaoundé 1, Cameroon. His work examines patterns of agro-pastoralism, Fulani pastoralists adaptation strategies to disappearing grazing resources, rural livelihoods, gender and the relationships between communal land rights and agricultural production in the Western Highlands of Cameroon. Richard’s current research in the Western Highlands of Cameroon provides critical insight into the political ecology of agrarian landscape transformation, communal land rights, and natural resource competition between local farmers and herders. Some of the key themes addressed in his work include transhumance, farmer-herder conflicts, crop-livestock integration strategies as a solution to disappearing agro-pastoral landscape, environmental sustainability, and community development.

Suggested reading

Fulani pastoralists’ transformation process: a sustainable development approach in the Western Highlands of Cameroon

Contact us

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