The 2016 cocoa season is seemingly a better one for farmers with the price on a steady rise. Producers say the price a week ago stood at over FCFA 1,500, up from FCFA 1,000 per kilogramme same time last year. They say the international market is doing well, with transactions prompting an increase in prices. Demand has for some time surpassed supply, with market forces doing the rest. New customers/markets have come into play, with China, Eastern Europe and Africa (particularly Côte d’Ivoire with over 50 per cent of production that is evaluated at two million metric tonnes per annum) prompting price hikes. This notwithstanding, the price is not enjoyed by all cocoa producers, notes the National President of the Cameroon National Cocoa and Coffee Producers, André Belebenié. He explained that the price of cocoa per kilo might remain at FCFA 2,000 at the international level, but the FCFA 1,600 that will be given out to producers in Bokito in the Centre Region will not be the same amount paid to those in Nkonjock in the Littoral Region.
“Cocoa farmers in some villages near Kumba in the South West Region, Yabassi in the Littoral Region and other villages in the East Region will barely sell their produce at FCFA 1,200 when business is at peak on the international market,” said Mr Belebenié. He explained that accessibilty and nearness to the Douala Seaport plays against many farmers who are in remote zones. The National President of the Cameroon National Cocoa and Coffee Producers disclosed that price increase also depends on the quantity of produce. Selling over 50 tonnes of cocoa can prompt an increment of FCFA 80 as against FCFA 20 for 10 tonnes. Group sales in cooperatives have contributed, with sellers appreciating quality and quantity. However, the prices fluctuated early this month and have since yesterday January 19, 2016 witnessed an increase in the international market. Government intends to scale up production to 600,000 tonnes by 2020 as against 200,000 today. Producers however wonder how production can stagnate at 200,000 tons for over five years at a time more investors are joining the sector.
The sector, according to Belebenié, is evolving and the country boasts of sustainable manpower added to its technical capacity. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Trade are however challenged to work out reliable figures for the cocoa sector in Cameroon. The association wants better implication of producers in the implementation of best practices as well as in support to decision-makers. Producers prefer direct subvention-farm tools and inputs as a means of scaling production, contributing to the country’s GDP and improving the lot of Cameroonians.