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Cameroon/COVID-19 effects: Tomatoe price triples after farmers abandon cultivation

Tomatoes exposed at Mfoundi market in Yaounde after huge spike (c) journalduCameroun

The price of tomatoe in the local market in Cameroon has tripled after farmers abandoned cultivation due to the huge losses incurred because of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic which continues its world torment.

Veronic Awono is a tomatoe seller at the Mfoundi market in Yaounde, Centre region of Cameroon.

According to her, the price of a crate of tomatoes has increased from FCFA 2000 two months ago to FCFA 12,000.

“This situation is really getting on my nerfs. Consumers are complaining because we now sell four tomatoe fruits at FCFA 200. You will go round the market if you care and never see tomatoes for FCFA 100…”

The retailer told Journal du that this is as a result of the fact that most farmers have abandoned the cultivation of tomatoe due to the huge losses they recorded after borders were closed in a bit to prevent further importation of the deadly coronavirus pandemic into Cameroon in March.

In effect, about four months ago, tomatoe farmers, most of whom export a greater portion of their productions to Chad, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea were deprived of their international customers due to the closure of borders.

They were forced to sell in the local market only, a situation which led to an increase in supply and a decrease in demand, resulting in a drastic drop of prices of tomatoes.

Veronic Awono hinted that with the re-opening of borders, demand has increased by far and supply decreased, reason why the price has tripled.

This situation is not welcomed at all by Andrea Abega, faithful tomatoe consumer who has decided to divert her preferences.

“I prefer either to buy canned tomatoes or reduce my consumption if I can’t do without tomatoe fruits or better still change my menu rather than buying ten tomatoe fruits at FCFA 1000, a quantity which is even grossly insufficient for home consumption…”

On the other hand, Christiane Mvogo is of the opinion that the increase in the price of tomatoes is but normal taking into consideration the losses incurred by farmers when borders were closed.

Reports have it that some of these farmers committed suicide due to the inability to repay the loans they contracted to cultivate tomatoes this season.

In order to revive this sector which generates close to 600,000 jobs, the Government of Cameroon pledged FCFA 2 billion.

In the meantime, the COVID-19 blow is still very fresh in the minds of some of these farmers.

Published on 28.04.2020

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