An Economic Appraisal of Cocoa Production in Cameroon: The Case Study of Lekie Division



Prior to oil exploitation, Cameroon's major export commodity was essentially agricultural. It contributed for about 80% of the total exports. But in 1978, oil exploitation quickly became the engine of economy growth.  With the presence of oil, the economy of the country still remains greatly agrarian with about 80% of the population involved in agriculture and this explains the important contribution of agro-product (40%) to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Cameroon. The major export crops of the economy are cocoa, coffee and cotton. Statistical evidence indicates that Cameroon is sixth world largest producer of cocoa (ICCO, 2003). However, despite the huge proportion of the population involved in the agricultural sector, the country still experiences poverty with 48% of its population living below the poverty line (World Bank, 2002). In recent years, crop production witnessed serious decline as a result of inadequate institutional capacity and fluctuation in world prices. In response to this, the government in 2001 announced an adjustment programme to revive cocoa and coffee production but this was proven abortive.

Since the displacement in 1995 of the National Product Marketing Board (NPMB), the cocoa output has remained steadier rather than shifting upward (ICCO, 2003).This phenomenon has led to drastic reduction of the gain by farmers and deepens the poverty situation couple with the decline in cocoa price at world market. The decline in the world price of the cash crop product rather triggered the international competitiveness of agricultural product and fuggier other macroeconomic aggregates in Cameroon, for example, the debt payment that was generally drawn from the export receipts witnessed and increase and recurring delay in servicing it. This scenario may persist if cocoa production is not adequately taken care off. It should be noted that the cocoa production is treated as extractive industry with fertilization from forest litter. Consequently, traditional methods, inadequate labour result to meaningless yield (about 326kg/ha) and low returns to farmers (Harpooning and Sanders, 2002). Concurrent, other control measures were not productive. This study is therefore investigating the profitability of cocoa production among farmers in Lekié Division in Cameroon. Specifically, the study seeks to identify the major problems faced by cocoa producers, determine the cost and benefit from cocoa production and examine the efficiency of resources used by cocoa farmers in the Lekié Division.

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