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Unrest in Cameroon fuels cocoa smuggling to Nigeria

EKOK, Cameroon Reuters | Unrest in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions, the central African nation’s cocoa-growing heartland, is fuelling bean smuggling into neighbouring Nigeria, farmers and buyers said on Tuesday.

Cameroon has been gripped by spiralling violence since November 2016, when government forces crushed a peaceful movement of Anglophone teachers and lawyers protesting against their perceived marginalisation by the French-speaking majority.

Violent clashes between separatists and security forces have cut many Cameroonian buyers off from parts of the Southwest region, source of roughly half of Cameroon’s total production which reached around 240,000 tonnes last season.

Our usual buyers are scared. Some come, but they stop in towns like Mamfe and do not dare to venture further into villages that produce more cocoa.

“Our usual buyers are scared. Some come, but they stop in towns like Mamfe and do not dare to venture further into villages that produce more cocoa,” said Takor, a cocoa farmer in Mamfe, who did not give his surname out of fear of retribution.

“Now we have buyers that come from Nigeria,” he said.

A Reuters reporter in the south-western town of Ekok saw bags of cocoa beans loaded on to pick-up trucks and into cars registered in Nigeria’s Cross River State.

Cocoa smuggling has long been an issue along the border. But Cameroonian farmers and buyers told Reuters that the crisis has aggravated the practice.

Smugglers, they said, are now paying higher prices for beans and venturing deeper into Cameroon, the world’s fifth biggest producer, to scoop up more of farmers’ output.

One farmer in the south-western village of Eyang Ntui said Nigerians paid between 850 and 1,000 CFA francs ($1.52-$1.79) per kilogram of beans. Cameroonian buyers were, meanwhile, paying around 600 CFA francs/kg, he said.

“The crisis has brought us closer together. It is easier to sell to the Nigerians who are near us,” said Mbeng, who farms 12 hectares of cocoa near Mamfe and also withheld his surname.

No estimate was available for the smuggled volumes, but Cameroonian farmers and buyers said the amounts were significant.

Farmer Georges Eyong said his cooperative had sold 53 tonnes of beans to Nigerian buyers this month.

A senior official with Cameroon’s sector regulator, the National Office for Cocoa and Coffee (ONCC), said it plans to curb cocoa smuggling by setting up check points along the Nigerian border.

“This is an illegal trade. We are not opposed to exporting Cameroonian cocoa, but exporters need to meet all the necessary terms and conditions,” said the official, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the press. ($1 = 558.0000 CFA francs)

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5 comments

  1. Cocoa on the surface, minerals under the surface and football on the pitches have not quite produced wealth for the ordinary Joes ! The real wealth is found in the wallets of the middlemen and their end-product merchants.
    And so it is, nicht wahr?

  2. if the cocoa was exported to,switzerland,france,holland,and belguim where it is transformed to chocolate and re exported to africa,thensold thirty times the original price.there is no problem because it is called international trade in the oppressors language,naively accepted by the oppressed(globalization).now that it is sold to africans who will do transformation,reaping added benefits in the process of creating added value.it becomes a crime,and terms like smuggling are used discribe transaction between africans.what is interesting here,is that,if we look at a true map,MAMFE seems to be inside nigeria!.normally the first economic patner of cameroon should be nigeria.meaning at least 70% of our exports should be destine to nigerian cities if we accept both territoriesas seperate entities

  3. normally 70% of cameroons exports should be to nigerian cities like,ABUJA,KANO,LAGOS and KALABA with a huge concentration of people.to give you an example of the consumption potential,the population of LAGOS state alone,is more than the population of cameroon.meaning, in the 25 to 30 million people that make up the whole of cameroon.15 million could be employed producing goods and services to satisfy the population of nigerian cities.lets take the example of rice and wheat production to make our point.nigeria imports flour and rice for about 10 billion euros a year or even above.this mean,if people in ACHA TUGI,FUNDONG,MAMFE,NJAH ETU can produce flour and rice of excellent quality.the market is there.unemployement will be a think of the past,linked to ignorance.

  4. Thank you Mr Mbah Achu.inter trade within Africa is the only vaible and genuine way that can creat jobs for Africans and get our people out of poverty and make Africans proud to be Africans,make us love and want to stay in this beautiful continent of ours and spare us all the humiliation and degradation as a people as shithole people from shithole countries!

  5. A unilateral 12 month temporary trade agreement from both countries Cocoa sector regulators would take 3 days ,around 30 emails and 5 Dhl signed original agreements .The farmers and goverment revenue in both countries might be more anyway as Bah acho reasons …..