Cocoa: One of many investment opportunities at your fingertips

From Cameroon Tribune

By Godlove BAINKONG

Cocoa Production: Investment Sector Worth Embracing

September 8, 2014 

Cameroon has rich potentials to produce aplenty coupled with promising market prospects.

There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for cocoa. Reports from the National Cocoa and Coffee Board, NCCB, say prices per kilogramme of the cash crop witnessed an all-time high rate in the 2013-2014 farming season. Farmers received averagely FCFA 1,275 per kilogramme of the produce, the highest in the last three years.  Marketable production in the 2013-2014 farming season witnessed a drop of 19,000 metric tons vis-à-vis the previous season to stand at 209,905 metric tons with 174,629 kg exported to Holland, Malaysia, Belgium and other countries.

This performance keeps Cameroon on the fourth position on the African chart of cocoa producing countries and the fifth in the world after Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia and Nigeria. This is certainly good news given the dwindling fortunes of the sector in past years where farmers dumped cocoa production in favour of food crops which they could eat and readily sell. The performance is however not good enough to maximize global opportunities for the sustainability of the sector both to farmers and the country’s economy.

While production is still largely in the hands of small-holder farmers, most of whom inherited the old plantations with archaic farming methods from their ancestors, local processing is manned by few outfits like SIC Cacaos, CHOCOCAM and some common initiative groups. Investing in cocoa production to go even beyond the 2020 mark of 600,000 metric tons would be good to conquer the ready market of the produce.

Improving on the road network so that inputs get to farmers early enough to engender better yields as well as nib pests in the bud and for the produce to get to the market will be salutary. Only then can all cocoa produced in the country be channeled into the formal circuit of the economy. This will equally avert situations where for want of farm-to-market roads, the produce is sold to neighouring countries and exported to world markets under such countries at the detriment of Cameroon.

According to the General Manager of NCCB, Michael Ndoping, statistics from the International Cocoa Organisation show that future world demand of the produce could hit four million metric tons up from the current 3.8 million metric tons. Although the gap between the current and future productions may just be in the neigbourhood of 200,000 metric tons, bridging it could be an uphill task. This is more so as giant cocoa producing nations like Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are almost seeing their cocoa production zones exploited beyond any use.

This is an opportunity Cameroon and Nigeria, still parading huge potentials capable of producing beyond what they have, can maximize to better their populations and economies.  Cameroon has vast and arable fertile land in the seven cocoa production regions of the country with good climate comprising abundant sunshine and rainfall all favourable for qualitative and quantitative production.

There is no gainsaying therefore that the cocoa sector in the country is still almost virgin, necessitating viable and sustainable investments to propel it to a purveyor of development.

Original Report can be accessed HERE