On July 6, 2023, farmers from the villages surrounding the sugarcane plantations owned by the French group SOMDIAA (Castel) traveled to Yaoundé to deliver “poisoned” gifts to the management of SOSUCAM. These gifts consisted of maize, cassava, and peanuts destroyed by the pesticides sprayed on their fields by the company’s airplanes.
Gathered in front of the SOSUCAM headquarters in the administrative district of Yaoundé, about twenty local residents came from villages such as Ebolbam, Nguèn, Mendjui, Mvan, Nkollessoung, Zili, Dakoura, Nkoteng-village, and Ongom. They carried sacks filled with their crops, which had become unsellable and inedible due to the aerial spraying of agrochemicals by the giant agro-industrial Castel. Symbolically, these products were handed over to the CEO as evidence of the denounced aerial spraying.
In several villages, hectares of staple crops have been destroyed by the repeated flights of SOSUCAM’s airplanes, spreading a new product on its sugarcane fields. Not only cassava, peanuts, maize, yams, sweet potatoes, and melons were rendered unfit for consumption, but even fruit-bearing trees suffered. The chemicals sprayed from the planes extended beyond the plantation boundaries, affecting the fields of neighboring villages and contaminating water sources. Such practices are prohibited in France, the home country of the parent company, yet they are freely employed in Cameroon.
Since June 5, 2023, when cases of crop destruction from aerial spraying in May 2023 came to light, the management of SOSUCAM has not responded positively to the demands of these affected communities.
The farmers traveled more than 130 kilometers from their villages to Yaoundé, hoping to be heard by the CEO, in order to:
- Seek proportional compensation for the damages incurred
- Ensure that aircraft remain at least 2 kilometers away from village plantations, residential areas, and water sources.