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Wild Food, Prices, Diets and Development: Sustainability and Food Security in Urban Cameroon

Wild Food, Prices, Diets and Development: Sustainability and Food Security in Urban Cameroon
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21 March 2014

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This article analyses wild food consumption in urban areas of Cameroon. Building upon findings from Cameroon’s Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) this case study presents empirical data collected from 371 household and market surveys in Cameroonian cities. It employs the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food’s framework for understanding challenges related to the availability, accessibility, and adequacy of food. The survey data suggest that many wild/traditional foods are physically available in Cameroonian cities most of the time, including fruits, vegetables, spices, and insects. Cameroonians spend considerable sums of their food budget on wild foods. However, low wages and the high cost of city living constrain the social and economic access most people have to these foods. The data also suggest that imports of non-traditional staple foods, such as low cost rice, have increasingly priced potentially more nutritious or safe traditional local foods out of markets after the 2008 food price crisis. As a result, diets are changing in Cameroon as the resource-constrained population continues to resort to the coping strategy of eating cheaper imported foods such as refined rice or to eating less frequently. Cameroon’s nutrition transition continues to be driven by need and not necessarily by the preferences of Cameroonian consumers. The implications of this reality for sustainability are troubling.


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