Establish a fully functional community-based forest enterprise to supply the bark of Prunus africana from a sustainable source to the pharmaceutical companies worldwide and managing the financial returns equitably for the benefits of the local communities.
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Prunus africana or African cherry is an Afromontane tree species attaining 30 m height or more which, with the possible exception of Prunus crassifolia, is the only Prunus species indigenous to mainland tropical Africa. In West Africa, Prunus africana is present on Bioko Island, Nigeria and Cameroon. The largest population is in Cameroon where Prunus africana is present in three main geographical blocks along the Cameroon Volcanic Line. It is a multipurpose forest tree species, which combines the international therapeutic properties of the bark with local uses. The exploitation of Prunus africana bark to supply an international pharmaceutical market estimated at US$220 million per annum started in Cameroon around 1970. The bark of this tree is the source of the active ingredients used in manufacturing the drugs used to treat a medical condition in men known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH. Symptoms include a weak or interrupted stream of urine, inability to empty the bladder completely, increase in the frequency of urination especially at night, delay in passing urine and post urinary dribbling. The drug from the bark of Prunus africana is called Proscar (or Finasteride) in the UK and it is manufactured by Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd (MSD) the UK subsidiary of Merc & Co., Inc of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, USA. Difficulties associated with the possibility of synthesizing the bioactive compound as it is often the case with most pharmaceuticals developed from plants have imposed increasing pressure on the natural populations of Prunus africana. MOCAP, a community-based forest enterprise, was set up in 2000 to facilitate the sustainable exploitation of the tree on Mount Cameroon which hosts one of the largest populations in Africa and to provide livelihood benefits to the local populations. MOCAP was able to mobilize 14 villages around Mount Cameroon in the first two years and to start the sustainable harvesting of the bark. Unfortunately it has been unable to maintain this momentum and to continue to provide livelihood benefits to the local communities and ensuring the natural resource base. It has been beset by a combination of poor or inadequate technical, institutional and financial capacity. The situation was worsened in 2007 by the suspension of trade in the bark from Cameroon to the EU following recommendations from CITES which regulates trade in species such as Prunus. The goal of this project is to build the capacity of MOCAP as a community-based forest enterprise so that in time it can manage the harvesting and trade in the bark of Prunus africana effectively and sustainably with minimal external support. The specific objectives of the project include: (i) Assessing the institutional and technical needs of MOCAP as a community-based forest enterprise; (ii) Identifying, developing and managing strategic business partnerships and secure profitable and sustainable markets with pharmaceutical industries outside Africa. (iii) Supporting the planting of Prunus africana trees on farms to reduce pressure on the wild population. Project Duration: 3 Years Project total costs and financial breakdown: (1) Physical & Capital Project inputs: ¬£75,600 (2) Recurrent Project costs: ¬£20,500 (3) Management and Administration in Cameroon: ¬£21,600 (4) Monitoring and Evaluation in Cameroon: ¬£27,000 (5) Organisational development for local organisation in Cameroon: ¬£67,450 (6) Organisational development for ACDEF, UK: ¬£16,100 (7) Management, Administration and Provision of Technical Support by ACDEF UK: ¬£147,650 Project total costs: ¬£375,600
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