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Falling prices discouraging Cameroon’s cocoa farmers

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Cocoa farmers in Cameroon say falling prices is discouraging them from planting and engaging new crops.

According to Jerome Mvondo, director-general of the Cameroon Cocoa Development Corporation, Cameroon’s plans to double the nation’s production of cocoa beans by 2020 will not be achieved. To him, the plan is unrealistic and unattainable. “The falling prices are seriously discouraging farmers” he said. Producers in Cameroon and the world’s fifth-biggest cocoa producer have seen farm gate prices slump by more than a third in the past year as London future contracts declined on forecasts of an oversupply. Cameroon, which produced 269 495 metric tons in the year through July, is in the third year of a strategy to increase annual output to more than 600 000 tons by 2020.

Mvondo said even though the strategy to increase output envisaged new plantings of about 100 000 hectares (247 105 acres) every year, Cameroon has only achieved growth of 2 500 to 3 500 hectares since 2014. He revealed that government’s cut of subsidies for inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides by 30 billion F CFA  is equally not helping matters.

In reaction to this, the government through Trade Minister Luc Magloire Mbarga Antangana said on Monday that it had asked an emergency committee to compile a strategy on how to deal with the impact of low prices. This according to the minister will consider how the country can process more cocoa locally to cope with volatile prices.  “Our message to farmers is not to hastily rush out of the sector out of panic, because there is going to be a way out,” Mbarga said in a statement.

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