Support for farmers will take sting out of losses.

In common with most other African states, the Cameroonian agricultural sector has been badly affected by the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

The closure of international borders across the West and Central Africa region has prevented the country from exporting food to neighbouring states. This has hit producers hard but greatly reduced food prices within Cameroon, providing some benefit for consumers at a time when many have lost their incomes because of lockdown restrictions.

The price of many basic foodstuffs fell by 50-70% in the second quarter of this year. Distribution firms that previously exported food to wholesalers in neighbouring countries, plus restaurants and hotels in Cameroon, switched their business models to selling food directly to local people within Cameroon.

The Minister of Finance, Louis Paul Motaze, has announced financial support for farmers in the form of subsidies and tax breaks, while consumer taxes have already been lifted on basic foodstuffs.

Greatly restricted trade across the region means that it is more difficult to ensure that the food that is produced reaches those who need it. Shortages in parts of the country can often be satisfied by surpluses elsewhere, but restrictions on cross-border haulage and the movement of people have created supply and demand problems that are exacerbated by the severe financial problems experienced by people across Cameroon.

Production of foodstuffs has been hit

There have been calls for the government to intervene to force banks and other lending institutions to renegotiate the terms of loans for farmers. Aside from the fact that a huge rise in the proportion of nonperforming loans would destabilise the entire banking sector, there have been reports of farmers committing suicide over their inability to repay loans because they have been cut off from their main markets.

Producers of...

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