Cocoa ranks among the most important cash crops in Cameroon. Historically grown since 1886, cocoa agro-forestry has gained significant prominence in the country’s agricultural landscape with about 37% of total croplands now devoted to its cultivation. Considered on the ranking trail, Cameroon was the fifth highest cocoa producer in the world in 2013/2014. Similarly, the contributions of cocoa to Cameroonian economy ever since the country obtained independence in 1960 cannot be overemphasized.
Employment generated from cocoa value chain is quite enormous with the number of households deriving their primary incomes from its cultivation estimated at close to 600000 on about 600000 hectares of land. Though projected to decrease to 230,000 metric tons in 2015/2016, Cameroon’s cocoa outputs increased from 211,000 metric tons in 2013/2014 to 232,000 metric tons in 2014/2015.
However, smallholder farmers that dominate the cocoa sub-sector are largely besieged by poverty. This goes contrary to the tenet of sustainability which was defined in Article 39 of the International Cocoa Agreement of 2001 as the intersection of social, economic and environmental benefits in cocoa production. Many cocoa farmers are now subjected to periodic financial risks and economic instability, among other obliviously compounded socioeconomic problems.
by Abayomi Oyekale, Cameroon