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March 30, 2009

Cocoa bean prices slump in Cameroon

by Solomon Tembang Mforgham

Cocoa beans in the Central region of Cameroon are being sold for FCFA 975-1,025 ($2.06-2.17) a kilogram, down from FCFA1,150 ($2.34)-1,200/kg a fortnight ago, farmers and traders have said.

“We're selling a kilogram of cocoa beans this week (March 29) at FCFA 1,025 ($2.08) in Bafia, but farmers selling their crop up country give it out at FCFA 975 ($1.98) -1,000," said cocoa farmer Alphonse Emmanuel Nguile, who is also vice-president of the National Organization of Cocoa and Coffee Producers.

Located 150 kilometers northwest of Yaoundé, Bafia is central Cameroon's main cocoa-growing and marketing town. Like other parts of the country, the centre region, which accounts for 30-35% of the annual output of over 187,000 metric tons, is heading toward the midcrop cocoa harvest.

"Since we're heading to the midcrop cocoa harvest, cocoa beans are scarce in the markets," said another farmer Emmanuel Akolo Nogo. He added: "But the prices stay low because big cocoa buyers from big exporters are out of the field and are not buying. So those seeking cocoa are essentially the middlemen traders who have no strong competition on the markets."

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