By Elias Ntungwe Ngalame
Stakeholders in the Cocoa sector in Cameroon have taken measures to ensure that the quality of Cameroon cocoa is improved through application of climate friendly mechanisms. Meeting in Kumba in the Southwest region of the country recently to evaluate the 2013/2014 cocoa season, actors resolved to engage in sensitization of farmers to carry out measures that will help mitigate the effects of climate change that has greatly affected cocoa production in the country.
“We have emphasized on measures such as proper fermentation of cocoa seeds for at least six days while discouraging the use of tar to dry cocoa and poor storage facilities. We have concluded that only ovens and sunlight be used for drying cocoa to avoid the effects of smoke during prolonged rains” says Martin Akume head of Kumba Cocoa Farmers cooperative at the end of the evaluation meeting.
The two-day meeting organised by the Cocoa and Coffee Inter-Professional Council (CCIC) in collaboration with the National Cocoa and Coffee Board aimed at assessing the current cocoa season as well as the implementation of the Support for Organization Marketing, SOM programme in compliance with the new statutory provisions of the CCIC.
The meeting that brought together 100 participants ranging from producers, buyers, delegates of Trade and Agriculture, administrative and municipal authorities also resolved to sensitize producers on the importance and need of the new market operation. According to officials, this will ensure fair competition between operators and thus fair prices for producers. Emphasies was also laid on appropriate measures to fight the effects of climate change, such as harvesting and drying of cocoa during heavy rainy periods.
As the Executive Secretary of CCIC puts it in his address, the marketing of cocoa is still confronted with difficulties with the existence of intermediaries whose activities are not recognized by the relevant authorities bringing confusion in the market. He deplored the rushing of farmers to harvest by intermediaries even at unfavorable climatic conditions. This, he went on, explains why CCIC and NCCB are putting mechanisms in the marketing operations in accordance with regulations liberalizing the sector.
Officially opening the evaluation meeting, the 1st Assistant SDO for Meme, Mbua Epolle saluted the organisation of an evaluation of the cocoa season to discuss with stakeholders and find solutions to the problems which are affecting the sector. The administrator urged participants to lay emphasis on transparency of the market and declaration of a static and fair remuneration for producers.
On his part, the President of the South West Regional College of Cocoa and Coffee Producers, Musima James Lobe, lauded government’s assistance through inputs in a bid to increase production in a region that has a 40 per cent production of the national cocoa representing 96,000 metric tons out of the 240,000 metric tons produced in the country. He prayed government to increase subsidy in the next six years in order to achieve the dream of moving from 240,000 metric tons to 600,000 metric tons annually.