Coffee: The Cameroonian Paradox

Statistics show dropping production and increasing demand for the finished product as well

All Cameroonians may not already have the habit of waking up to the smell of locally produced coffee every morning, but recent trends show most coffee consumers nationwide are trusting home grown and locally processed coffee; at least from the point of view of vendors in the country’s capital, Yaounde. Niki, one of the renowned chain stores in the country gives a place of pride to Café Force II of UCAOCAFÉ company, a brand which won a medal of honour at the AVPA Paris coffee competition in 2017.

It is the first to be noticed when one glances at the beverage section of the store. Next to it are other popular locally manufactured brands like Philber, Vital and Ghotam, among others. An attendant at the Mvog Mbi branch of another multiple store operator, Mahima, told Cameroon Tribune that many customers are now preferring local brands, but says he has not taken time to find out why. “Take a look at the counter, UCAO coffee just got finished. Many people enjoy it,” he said. Djiogang Sylvie Caroline, owner of TKN shop in Yaounde believes many people prefer local coffee for diverse reasons.

“Take a look at the cabinet; come back in three days and you will not find anything there,” she said, pointing to a pack of locally processed coffee in about 30 packets of 500 and 1,000 grams. To her, many people who provide coffee to guests at ceremonies like weddings and funerals often prefer locally made beverages.

She also noted that Cameroonians living abroad and expatriates always buy locally processed coffee in large amounts when leaving Cameroon. “They say the quality is great and the prices good as well. Most of them praise the flavor of Cameroonian coffee,” she noted. The upsurge in demand for Cameroonian coffee is apparently a jus tification for the multiplicity of ‘Made in Cameroon’ brands. Official sources say there are about 30 different brands of locally processed Robusta and Arabica coffee. Ironically, while the demand for locally made coffee keeps increasing, production of the beans has been on a steady decline in recent years according to figures from the Cocoa and Coffee Interprofessional Council.

Locally production currently stands at 25, 000 tons per year; a far cry from the usual 120,000 tons. Sources say production is dropping because coffee farmers are aging; and few youths are interested in the domain. Observers say the dwindling interest in the sector is also fueled by the dropping prices of the cash crop both on the national and international market. The crisis in Anglophone regions has also affected production in the North West region which is among the three top producers nationwide (Littoral, North West and West).

However, the Cocoa and Coffee Interprofessional Council will be organizing the 7th edition of the Cof fee Festival dubbed FESTICAFE from April 16 to 17 with the aim of bolstering the interest of Cameroonians in the sector. As has been the case in previous editions, the event overseen by the Ministry of Trade will not only to encourage people to take up coffee growing and marketing to consume local brands, but will also serve as an avenue coffee growers to exhibit their know-how, exchange experiences and learn good practices from outstanding producers and experts.



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