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Boosting Agro-Business in Cameroon 2014 to 2019

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 in balance jeopardises 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.

*Joint Efforts to Supply Raw Materials for Sangmelima Cassava Plant*

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Essimi Menye, has begun consultations with stakeholders of the Sangmelima Cassava Processing Plant on ways through which cassava (raw material for starch) could be sustainably produced for the plant that needs 120 tons daily to function
optimally. The plant that is reportedly about 85 per cent complete has a serious problem of raw materials to produce starch for industrial consumption.

Speaking in a reflection meeting in Yaounde yesterday March 6, Minister Essimi Menye regretted that a project of that nature could be mounted
without consideration on where raw material would come. Meanwhile, having cassava means planting and waiting for at least nine months. The Minister
said after discussions with industries that need starch, they came to a conclusion that four cassava varieties need to be vulgarized. There will
therefore be need to create seed multiplication farms for these varieties. “To cultivate ten hectares of cassava, there is need for one hectare of
cassava cuttings. The cassava cuttings we have already for this year can go on 1,350 hectares in all the cassava processing basins of the county,” the
Minister said.

It emerged from yesterday’s meeting that the ministry is in the process of putting in place a team to first carry out an inventory of the space on
which cassava cuttings could be multiplied, an inventory of production basins and list of potential farmers who could organize themselves into
cooperatives to produce and channel the produce to the processing plant. “It needs better organization and we hope the team to be put in place will
work in synergy with the Sangmelima council. Cassava is the cocoa of tomorrow, let’s work together to set a solid base for an industrial cassava
production and processing in Cameroon,” Minister Essimi Menye said. He disclosed that there will be the establishment of cassava cutting
plantations that will be disseminated in April 2015 so that by 2016, a good harvest could be attained to keep the plant an optimum.

Focus of the plant will be the production of starch which is said to be selling like hot cake in the national and international markets. Jointly
funded by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Crafts of Cameroon and the Sangmelima council to the tune of FCFA 1.2 billion, the project seeks
to boost the industrialisation process undertaken by public authorities in Cameroon.

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