The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has proposed a recovery plan worth FCFA 2 billion to revive the tomato sector in Cameroon, facing serious setbacks due to the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic.
During the weekly inter-ministerial meeting of the committee charged with monitoring Government’s response strategy against the Coronavirus held Thursday July 16, Cameroon’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gabriel Mbairobe presented some recovery measures to revive the tomato sector, hard-hit by the pandemic.
The Minister proposed among others the restructuring of the sector, the identification of cooperatives in affected areas, the purchase of inputs like fertilizers, seeds and pesticides, the amounting to FCFA 2 billion.
Added to that, Minister Mbairobe envisages a long term measure, that of rehabilitating the agricultural processing firm in the Noun Division of the West region of Cameroon that was forced to close because of insufficient raw materials and an increase in the national production of tomatoes to supply the Elena tomato and “tomate Neima” agro-industries.
After Gov’t decided to close its borders in a bid to limit the importation of the Coronavirus pandemic on its soil four months ago, the tomato sector that generates close to 600, 000 jobs began facing enormous setbacks.
Farmers who export most of their productions to Chad, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea have been deprived of their international customers and forced to sale in the local market, a situation that has led to a drastic drop in the prices of tomatoes.
Few of these local producers are reported to have committed suicide because they were unable to repay the loans contracted to farm tomatoes this season.