Before 2000 the government had played the part of investor by financing the promotion and extension of aquaculture, the entrepreneur by building production facilities, and managed the aquaculture sector by laying down production prices. The adoption of the National Governance Programme in 2000 changed national economic policy. This Programme required the government to gradually disengage from the production sector and to deregulate economic life. Under it, the government became a promoter, regulator, and even an arbitrator, while civil society was given the role of developing the economy.
In its new role as facilitator, with the assistance of FAO the government drew up a strategic framework for the sustainable development of aquaculture. This framework set out the roles of government, the private sector and research in the development of aquaculture. On the basis of this framework, Cameroon will draft the aquaculture development strategies enabling it to mount a development plan for the whole sector. Moreover, the ongoing revision of the legal framework for fisheries and aquaculture is designed to contribute to the drafting of a raft of legislation to drive the emergence of economically viable and socially acceptable aquaculture, able to guarantee environmental conservation and safeguard the principal interests of the leading players in this sector.
With regard to extension work, aquaculture supervisors responsible for overseeing the small farmers lacked the working tools they needed (scales, fishing nets, rulers…etc.) and vehicles. The aquaculturalists were therefore left to their own devices and they, in turn, abandoned the aquaculture ponds. With the incorporation of these aquaculture instructors into the National Agricultural Extension and Research Programe, equipped with more working facilities, the supervision of the fish farmers should become much more effective. As for production techniques, experience showed that dammed ponds were difficult to manage because it was not possible to control the production parameters and because they could be completely emptied. Furthermore, output was only good in the first year, after which production declined. These dammed ponds were gradually converted into deviation ponds which emptied completely, and in which the production parameters could be perfectly controlled. To improve yields from these deviation ponds the fish farmers build a pigsty or a poultry pen on the edge of the pond or standing on pilot is, in order to use the animal waste as natural fertilizer. In the northern regions, the temporary pools of water are enclosed, and the small farmers feed the fish untill harvest time.
Annual average production, commonly put at 50 tons in the absence of a statistical data collection system, is currently deemed to be 330 tons thanks to the presence of the Zonal Extension Agents (AVZ) who guarantee a minimum level of supervision of the fish farmers. Agriculture could make considerable progress in future with the continuation of the National Agricultural Research and Extension Program (PNVRA) and by stepping up the aquaculture training of the AVZs.
National aquaculture production does not take account of output from the temporary pools or the ponds owned by dignitaries and businessmen who practice fish farming as a prestige occupation, to which the extension agents do not have access. This kind of aquaculture is now spreading widely because everyone belonging to this social class would like to show off their importance through their pond and the quantity of fish they produce. During the past few years a craze has developed for aquaculture. It has been encouraged every year as a result of the training of young fish farmers by the Ministry responsible for aquaculture.