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Cameroon looks to double cocoa output: minister

By on September 26, 2009

Cameroon is looking to double its annual cocoa output from 200,000 tonnes in the medium-term by encouraging more farmers to enter the sector and backing efforts to boost yields, its junior farm minister said.

The target is in sharp contrast to concerns over a long-term trend downwards in top world grower Ivory Coast, where volumes are being hit by lack of investment and poor sector management.

“With collaboration from our partners, we should improve quantitative and qualitative cocoa production with the ultimate goal of doubling production within the medium term,” said Minister-Delegate for Agriculture Clementine Ananga Messina.

“We know this is not going to be easy, but given the enthusiasm the people have shown in reviving the cocoa sector, we will start injecting 5 billion CFA each year,” Messina told an event late on Thursday to mark the launch of the 2009/10 season.

Messina — who did not give a precise timeframe for the target — said measures would include distribution of better variety seedlings, wooing young farmers into the sector, and supporting the use of pesticides and fungicides.

Cocoa production in Cameroon hit a record 210,000 tonnes in 2008/2009, making it the fifth largest producer in the world. The National Cocoa and Coffee Board (NCCB) expects output to grow a further nine percent in the forthcoming 2009/2010 season.

Those levels remain small compared to the 1.3 million tonnes of annual production which Ivory Coast has turned in during recent years. However the 2008/09 Ivorian harvest is seen struggling to make 1.2 million tonnes and some are forecasting that the upcoming season will produce even less.

Prime Minister Philemon Yang was due later on Friday to inaugurate a 62-km (40-mile) road linking Cameroon’s main cocoa trading centre Kumba in the South-West region to the main road to Douala sea port.

“This is a dream come true,” Sam Nfon, general manager of the Cameroon Marketing Commodities (CAMACO), the country’s second main cocoa exporter, said of the EU-funded road.

“Before this road was tarred it was nightmare for us. Our trucks transporting produce to Douala used to take eight to 12 hours and even days sometimes, but now it is just a matter of two to three hours.”

Separately, cocoa beans grinder Sic-Cacaos told Reuters it had completed an upgrading of its processing factory in Cameroon to raise capacity to 30,000 tonnes per year from 25,000.

“We are very confident that as from this year we will process 30,000 tonnes of cocoa beans,” said Bart Willems, managing director of the Douala-based unit of Swiss chocolate firm Barry Callebaut.


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