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Cameroon: Cocoa Prices Drop as Harvest Rises

Farmers in Cameroon's key cocoa-producing Center region are receiving lower prices paid for cocoa beans, about 3% less for a kilogram of cocoa on the farm gates compared with nearly two weeks ago, farmers and traders told Dow Jones Newswires on Sunday.

A kilogram of cocoa beans was selling Sunday between 1,200 and 1,320 Central African francs ($2.04-$2.24), down from the 1,250 and 1,350 Central African francs a kilogram of cocoa beans sold nearly two weeks ago, they said.

The farmers say the mainly middlemen traders buying cocoa at the farmgates are reticent to pay higher for available cocoa beans, although protracted dry weather doesn't guarantee big output in the ongoing midcrop and expected main crop outputs. They also complain that farmgates cocoa prices continued to fall while those at the port of Douala, Cameroon's export and import gateway, kept rising in weeks.

"But we've started accepting lower prices paid for cocoa because more cocoa is being harvested from the farms, while the stocks we've hoarded keep stockpiling," said Alphonse Emmanuel Nguile, the vice president of a cocoa-growing organization with more than 50,000 members.

With midcrop cocoa harvest entering high gear, farmers hoped for a price rebound when big exporters dispatched buyers to the province's farmgates. Most buyers had gone on a routine break that comes between the region's main and second crops.

Central Cameroon, which accounts for nearly 40% of the West African nation's national yearly cocoa harvest, began the midcrop cocoa harvest in the last half of June.

Expected in May, this year's harvest was delayed by prolonged dry weather between November and March.


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