Economy: Agriculture, the backbone of Cameroon’s economy

Agriculture remains the backbone of Cameroon’s economy, employing 70 percent of its workforce, while providing 42 percent of its GDP and 30 percent of its export revenue. Blessed with fertile land and regularly abundant rainfall in most regions, Cameroon produces a variety of agricultural commodities both for export and for domestic consumption. Coffee and cocoa are grown in central and southern regions, bananas in South west region, and cotton in several parts of Northern regions.

Emmanuel NGOTA

In addition to export commodities, Cameroonian farmers produce numerous subsistence crops for family consumption. Principal food crops include millet, sorghum, peanuts, plantains, sweet potatoes, and manioc. Animal husbandry is practiced throughout the country and is particularly important in Northern region. (Encyclopedia of the Nations » Africa » Cameroon) According to a document jointly published in 2007 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER), and that of Fishery, Livestock and Animal Husbandry (MINEPIA); in recent years, food production did not follow the rapid demographic increase, especially in the urban areas. According to these ministries, food security has to be assured by an increase in the production of food stuff and other crops which could substitute importations.

To meet these needs, these ministries have as an objective for a sector’s development strategy, set a target in 2015 to train 30.000 farmers per year. MINADER has 35 centers for agricultural training (24 are rural training centers and 11 are centers for the training of young farmers). Furthermore, these two ministries are actually offering training in the rural development sector like extension agents, agricultural advisers and professional farmer groupings (farmer’s organizations) The Government, faced with the effects of the financial crisis, has taken steps to boost production of commodities such as corn, rice, cassava, potato, oil palm and plantain. For food crops, these measures aim to improve commercialization products through the construction of warehouses for conservation.

In 2009, the agricultural sector accounted for approximately 75.6% of primary industry with 68.8% for food and agriculture 6.8% for export crops. This sub-sector increased by 8.3% compared to 2008, contributing 0.7 percentage point to growth actual primary sector. (Institut National de la Statistique – Annuaire Statistique du Cameroun 2010) In 2009, the government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development intends to implement an emergency plan to increase agricultural production. This plan aims to provide farmers planting material; subsidize pesticides and fertilizer from 20 to 50%, grant loans at low interest rates, create five pools of agricultural machinery support up to 15%, acquire about a hundred tractors and increase the capacity of processing, storage and packaging. All this will lead to improved agricultural production. The National Agricultural Extension and Agricultural Research (PNVRA) through outreach activities conducted by Extension Agents Zone (AVZ) provide technical guidance and sometimes financial farmers. (Institut National de la Statistique – Annuaire Statistique du Cameroun 2010) In March 2012, “Cameroun Tribune” published an article on the eve of the launching of the 2012 farming season in Cameroon, stating that apart from some few mechanized industrial exploitations, agriculture in Cameroon is essentially traditional.

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