Cameroon’s coffee sector requires the involvement of all and sundry in promoting the coffee sector which has been freefalling for the past 30 years. The calls for concerted effort were made during the opening on April 16 in Yaounde, of the 7th edition of the annual coffee festival codenamed, FESTICOFFEE – an initiative of the Cocoa and Coffee Interprofessional Council (CCIC).
The Minister of Trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, spoke at the event while launching the National Coffee Tasting Day; one of several activities planned for the two-day event. He said it is not time to relent efforts. Referring to a study carried out recently by an American economist that predicted a bright future of Africa’s coffee, he said Cameroon is the new land of coffee.
“The coffee sector was affected by adverse factors in the international market. The slowdown of the sector did not affect Cameroon alone ,but we are engaged in valorizing the sector, especially local processing through events like this,” he said, adding that processing coffee into finished products locally, will reduce the effects of external shocks.The Minister said everybody can contribute to strengthening the coffee sector, and urged citizens to consume locally manufactured coffee.
Micheal Ndopin, General Manager of the National Cocoa and Coffee Board on his part, said for Cameroonians to make the best out of the coffee sector, it is important to increase production alongside consumption. “The Minister is right. We need to consume what we produce. But we must do our best to increase production. If we are not careful, demand may soon exceed production and we will find ourselves importing coffee. But it is important to note that though production has dropped in the past thirty years, the quality of our coffee beans has increased due to new varieties.”
Fonguh Peter, Marketing Officer for the North West Cooperative Association which has over 240, 000 coffee growers, affirmed that local processing is key to boosting the sector. “Coffee farmers are old, the coffee trees are old, the prices are determined by the global commodity market and climate change is also affecting the sector. If we process our own coffee, we will determine the prices of our finished products, fair prices will attract the youth and investors, and we won’t worry about the increasing demand. Everyone needs to play his part, to make this happen,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Communication Officer for the CCIC, Abbisi Yves, said the theme of this year’s edition is a clarion call to all and sundry; ‘Act now for coffee.’ “We are saying that it is time for everyone to do something for the sector. We should stop saying, we can, we should, we would, and rather dive into action and support the sector,” said he.