Cameroon Government Tells Farmers to Produce More Cocoa, Despite Low Prices

By Emmanuel Tumanjong Features Dow Jones Newswires

YAOUNDE, Cameroon--The Cameroon government has asked cocoa farmers to preserve and produce more cocoa, despite the steady fall of prices locally and in world markets.

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"The fall of prices paid for cocoa is just for now. Cameroon and the world need more cocoa beans. So, produce more quantities and better quality cocoa," the West African nation's minister of trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana told farmers while touring the big cocoa-growing Center region.

Mr. Atangana is pressuring farmers to keep producing cocoa amid falling prices in a bid to squelch fears that some farmers plan destroying their cocoa farms--a recap of the early 1990s, when plummeting prices caused farmers to revert to farming food crops or ultimately destroying their cocoa farms.

Priced for 1,500 Central African francs ($2.56) mid-2016, a kilogram of cocoa beans now sells around 800 Central African francs at the farmgates, several farmers and traders said.

The Cameroon government's worry is heightened because destruction or abandoning of cocoa farms sold jeopardizes the third-largest African cocoa producer's plan to more than double its yearly cocoa harvest by 2020.

"But farmers are spending more, but benefiting very little to produce cocoa. If prices continue to fall, then we're placed in a dilemma," said cocoa farmer Siegfried Momo Ousmanne in Bafia, one of the country's biggest coca-growing areas.

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Write to Emmanuel Tumanjong at realtimedesklondon@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 11, 2017 11:34 ET (15:34 GMT)