African Press International (API)

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Cameroon 07/08 cocoa output up at 187,355 tonnes

Posted by African Press International on August 24, 2008

By Tansa Musa
YAOUNDE, Aug 20 – Cameroon produced a record 187,355 tonnes of cocoa in 2007/08 (Aug/July), up from a revised figure of 183,297 tonnes the previous year, according to the country’s Cocoa and Coffee Interprofessional Board (CCIB) and National Coffee and Cocoa Board (NCCB).
Last year’s output was the previous record in the West African country, the world’s fifth biggest cocoa producer.
Meanwhile, cocoa exports from Cameroon were also a record 162,084 tonnes in the season, up from 157,378 tonnes in the previous year.
Cocoa exports for the season which ended July 31 earned Cameroon 137 billion CFA francs ($309.6 million), NCCB General Manager Michael Ndoping said.
Despite harvesting a record cocoa crop in the season just finished, Cameroon is in danger of missing out of high prices on world markets because the quality of its product is falling, trade officials said at the launch of the new campaign.
Benchmark cocoa prices in New Yorkhit a 28-year peak of more than $3,000 per tonne in July. Though they have since fallen to $2,820, analysts expect prices to stay at these historically high levels for the foreseeable future as demand is set to remain strong.
As stated above, Cameroon registered its biggest ever haul of 187,355 tonnes in the season ended July 31. Of that, the highest quality beans, known as Grade 1, represented only 1.06 percent of cocoa exported from the world’s fifth-biggest producer, down from 7.5 percent in the previous season.
Trade minister Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana blamed the decline in quality on buyers and exporters picking up wet beans, mixing of different grades, drying beans on tar, door-to-door and night-time purchases in violation of the rules in force, poor storage facilities, and the growing presence of unlicensed buyers in search for quick profit.
In order to deal with the situation, he said his ministry and the cocoa and coffee development fund have signed a 2.83 billion CFA convention ($6.40 million) agreement to better administer the sector.
“The project is aimed at creating regularly-held markets, and making sure products can be traced,” he said.(END)
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