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Unemployed youths turn brewery trash to cash

Nang holds a FCFA5000 note between his lips as he thrusts his right hand into a white sac; holding up…

Nang holds a FCFA5000 note between his lips as he thrusts his right hand into a white sac; holding up its edges with his left hand. He pushes down the squashy content of the sac to make room for more. His younger brother pulls out the bank note from his (Nang’s) mouth. “Take the plastic bottles and place them by the roadside,” he orders and his younger brother immediately executes.

“These are waste products from the factory. This is how we struggle and make ends meet;” Nang tells Journal du Cameroun as he continues to fill the sac. He is one of several youths that have decided to stand up against joblessness and engage in the collection and sale of maize and millet waste from the Brasseries du Cameroun brewery factory in the Olezoa neighbourhood in Yaounde.

“I have come to believe it is true that where a lazy man sees poop, a hardworking person sees organic manure. We collect the waste and we resell to people who rear pigs. They come here often and buy from us. We buy a sac at the cost of FCFA1000 and resell it for FCFA2000. The one thousand francs profit is not insignificant as you may think. There are days I go home with FCFA5000 in profit. This business keeps me going”, says Nang.

Besides the chaff, Nang and his peers also collect in five litter plastic bottles, waste water from the factory. “We buy each bottle at the cost of FCFA100 and pay the factory workers FCFA100 for each bottle they fill. Pig owners buy them from us at 500FCFA each and everyone is happy at the end of the day;” says another youngster who refused to be named.

A pig owner at the factory, who equally craved anonymity, told Journal du Cameroun she prefers to feed her pigs with maize and millet chaff from the brewery company because it is cheaper. “A sac like this would cost FCFA6000 at a feed store, but I get it here for FCFA2000. Even the beer water we get from here is nutritive. We only have to dilute it with fresh water when feeding piglets. We also mix the chaff with other waste food from our homes so that our pigs will not feel like we feed them the same thing every day.”She adds.

Accosted to comment on how much revenue the brewery company gets from the sale of its maize and millet bi-products, Flavien Njiki Konmegne, refused to comment.“ Apart from overseeing the sale of the company’s waste out here, part of my job is to prevent journalists from taking photos and interviewing people here. If I see you talking to anybody or trying to take a photo, I will seize you and take you to the administration.” He warned.

Meantime, the sale of the waste appears to attract more than just unemployed youths in the locality. At about 1pm August 16, 2017 mini trucks could be seen moving in and out of a garage-like enclosure at the back of the factory where the waste drops out of a gigantic funnel.

Nang says he would encourage other jobless youth to join him in the petit trading as way to earn a living while looking for something better. He enjoins youth who may want to spend the entire third term holiday boozing, to join him and learn how to be enterprising.