Agribusiness booming in Cameroon

MINADER, the World Bank and some local companies on Tuesday March 4, 2014 signed to take off a five-year project.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER), the World Bank and some nine local companies have reached an agreement to boost the production, processing and sale of cassava, sorghum and maize in the country. The institutions signed agreements yesterday March 4 to take off a five-year (2014-2019) project code-named, “Agricultural Investment and Market-driven Project (AIMDP) which seeks to develop agribusiness in the country for a sustainable agricultural production both for the economy and livelihood of the producers. This consists in crop production (farming and contract farming), seed supply, agrichemicals, farm machinery, distribution, processing, marketing and retail of the products.

MINADER, through the project, is playing the role of referee, the World Bank providing funding, ECOBANK as the financial partner and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) providing technical know-how. While the Research Institute for Agricultural Development (IRAD) is to provide high-yielding and disease-resistant seeds, Guinness, Nestlé and other poultry production companies hope to have maize, sorghum and starch which they use as raw materials in their industries.

Speaking during the ceremony, MINADER boss, Essimi Menye, said it is unacceptable that these industries continually import these products and worsen the country’s trade balance when there are resources to boost local production. He said through the agribusiness-driven project, government wants to avoid a situation where farmers produce in bulk and lack markets for the produce. With the convention, each cooperative to benefit from the funding has a specific quantity of the product to furnish to the desired industry. Like the Minister, the project’s Coordinator, Thomas Ngue Bissa said bakery owners, brewery companies and other users of the products concerned have expressed a demand of maize estimated at 200,000 tons, 30,000 tons of sorghum, 20,000 tons of cassava flour and about 10,000 tons of starch. Importing these raw materials is not only costly for the industries but detrimental to the country’s trade balance whose persistent inbalance jeapardises the country’s emergence vision. Bakery owners who took part in the event said including only 10 per cent of cassava flour in their composition is synonymous with reducing about 50 per cent of flour imports and so advocated legislation obliging local bakeries to use at least 10 per cent of cassava flour.

The World Bank Director of Operations in Cameroon, Gregor Binkert, said the bank’s board of directors will examine the projects file next April. The ceremony was also an opportunity for IITA to share experiences on how a similar project worked in Nigeria and for companies already using these products as raw materials to showcase their finished products.

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