Market-Oriented Agriculture Takes Shape

The project develops farming based on expressed needs of agro-businesses to buy the products once they are produced.

Signing a 100 million dollars (about FCFA 50 billion) concessional loan agreement with the World Bank yesterday December 15 within the framework of Agricultural Investment and Market-driven Project (AIMDP) showcases government’s resolve to embrace agro-business. The money, the donor said, is a concessional loan, under the conditions of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) that assists developing countries.

What Does it Consist In?

According to the World Bank Director of Operations in Cameroon, Gregor Binkert, the project is focused on three value chains. These include the production of maize, cassava and sorghum, “three products which are very much today produced in subsistence manner with very low productivity and mainly for home consumption. This project is trying to develop these three chains and make them competitive by tripling productivity per hectare, with high-yielding seeds,” he said. This will consist in organising farmers into cooperatives through which they can make direct contracts with agro-businesses that are buying the additional production. “It is very important because today a lot of starch, maize and cassava are imported. The agro-businesses have the objective to purchase locally Cameroonian-made maize, sorghum and cassava,” Mr Binkert added. The five-year project (2014-2019) seeks to develop agro-business in the country for a sustainable agricultural production both for the economy and livelihood of the producers. This entails crop production (farming and contract farming), seed supply, agrichemicals, farm machinery, distribution, processing, marketing and retail of the products.

Target Production:

Gregor Binkert disclosed that agro-businesses in Cameroon have expressed the need to buy locally about 200,000 metric tons of maize, 1.4 million metric tons of cassava about 30,000 metric tons of flour and starch) as well as 30,000 metric tons of sorghum. Records show that importing these raw materials is not only costly for the industries but detrimental to the country’s trade balance whose persistent imbalance jeopardizes the emergence vision. Bakery owners say including only 10 per cent of cassava flour in their composition is synonymous with reducing about 50 per cent of flour imports. Direct beneficiaries are estimated at 120,000 people but the development of a disease-resistant and high-yielding seeds scheme will also allow for others to tap from the project to improve on the farm inputs and therefore their livelihoods.

What Action on the Field?

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Essimi Menye, said the execution of the project on the field will take several steps. “We are helping to create cooperatives with the notion of value chain at the level of councils. Each council area will have a cooperative for cassava, maize and sorghum production. This means that we need to train a lot of people including seed producers as well as getting young people into agriculture,” the Minister said. This is because the project, Minister Essimi Menye added, will also mill cassava and maize. “So, we will have milling units and for that we need to recruit engineers and technicians for those units to function. We need the banking sector to help because we need the turnaround of cooperatives and banks that are ready to join the bandwagon. We will bring changes in the way we use money. We will bring mobile banking into the project so that people will not need to carry money,” he noted. The project, the Minister reiterated, signals the launch of contractual agriculture, meaning before a farmer cultivates hisher farmland with cassava, maize or sorghum, he will need to have a contract with buyers (off-takers). “We will also have to certify the farms and the outputs so as to have products of very high quality,” Essimi Menye said.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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