DOUALA – The 2014 farming season is unfurling against a backdrop of swelling despair for Cameroon’s coffee sector. Harvests of the nation’s once-blooming cash crop have hit an all-time low of more than 50 percent slump from the previous year.
Growers, dealers, experts and farmer organizations are all piling blame on faulty government policies dating back to the early 1990s and calling for renewed subventions to farmers.
The Interprofessional Cocoa and Coffee Council says yields from the 2012-2013 season stood at just over 16,000 tons, down from above 38,000 previously. Meanwhile between the 1970s and 1990s, Cameroonian coffee growers were among the country’s wealthiest farmers.
“Our coffee is currently in very bad shape,” says Omer Gatien Maledy, executive secretary of the council.
“That’s the lowest figure we’ve known since Cameroon started growing coffee in 1957. And yet, we’ve known prosperous years. In 1990, we exported 156,000 tons. That was our best year.”