As cocoa per kilo price shoots up: Trade minister says trend signals brighter 2023-2024 cocoa season.
He was speaking recently during a group auction in Batchenga, Lekie Division of the Centre Region.
Citing data from the Sector Information System, SIF, actors in the sector say as at November 7, the price per kilo was still 1,930 FCFA, with the minimum price still standing at, 925 FCFA, up by 75 FCFA from the previous lowest limit.
He also said it highlights a competition between exporters and local processors for beans control, as the available quantities struggle to meet the demands of all industry participants.
The new price, the minister said, is slightly lower than the "special price of 2,015 FCFA per kg" that has been offered to producers by cocoa bean processors, Atlantic Cocoa since November 8.
With major international traders affiliated with exporters making substantial purchases, the local processing market, he said, had witnessed the entry of three new crushers viz; Atlantic Cocoa, Neo Industry, and Africa Processing) in less than three years.
The development, the minister said, has resulted in a combined capacity local processing capacity of around 100,000 tons.
Some of these operators, the minister also said, are willing to drive up beans prices to ensure the smooth operation of their factories, which often face shutdowns due to a shortage of raw materials.
Farmers are presently being paid a record 2,000 FCFA per kilogram of cocoa beans. The price has been so since November 10. The rise in prices, many say, signal a boom in the cocoa sector that has for years been plagued by low prices.
The significantly improved price is also coming at a time when farmers and dealers prefer smuggling their produce to neighbouring Nigeria where, before now, the per kilo price of the beans was much higher than in Cameroon.
Dealers assert that this 7th increase in price confirms that Cameroonian growers are among the best paid in the world.
It is worth recalling that Cameroon is cracking down on the smuggling of cocoa, cotton, and other cash crops to Nigeria by temporarily banning the legal trade as well.
After announcing the ban, authorities dispatched customs officers to the border who seized scores of trucks; prompting farmers to decry the ban, saying it's more profitable and safer to sell their produce to Nigeria.
Cameroon police and customs officials say they blocked scores of trucks that attempted to smuggle cash crops from the South West and some towns and villages of the Grand North Regions into Nigeria.
The Ministry of Trade justified the ban revealing that it was needed as the illegal trade causes losses to Cameroon economy amounting to not less than 165 million United States Dollars, USD each year.
The trade boss also revealed that smuggling of cash crops to Nigeria represents up to 60% of Cameroon´s total trade.
Meanwhile, farmers continue to complain that Cameroon does not have enough facilities to protect cocoa, wheat, corn, rice and sorghum from moisture, dust, and insect swarms that invade and destroy crops after harvest.
Farmers say they prefer selling their produce to a ready Nigerian market because back home, processing factories are rare; just as equipment and facilities that help to properly conserve produce for a reasonable amount of time before export.