(Business in Cameroon) - In the last few days, it has become hard for residents in the Far North region of Cameroon to purchase maize, sorghum, or millet since the prices of these cereals (which are staples in the Northern regions) have been rising every day.
According to the regional tri-weekly L'œil du Sahel, in markets of the regional capital Maroua, a 120 kg sack (commonly known as L8, according to local sources) of maize has risen from XAF18,000 to 24,000 (an increase of XAF6,000).
In Kousseri, which shares a border with Chad, the same quantity of maize is now sold at XAF27,000. This represents an increase of XAF10,000 compared with the price it was sold a few weeks ago (XAF17 000). At the same time, a bag of millet has risen by XAF11,000 over 3 months (from XAF12,000 to XAF23,000).
Merchants indicate that this price surge is caused by higher costs incurred in transporting products from main production areas to towns because of the state of the roads (usually impassable during rainy seasons). Also, they say, some wholesalers have been blacklisted on suspicion of creating artificial scarcity for speculative purposes, especially during the current lean season.
The Regional Trade Delegation for the Far North however sees this as the combined effects of difficult access to production basins, the lean season (when products of the last harvest are usually exhausted), and the massive purchases of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating in conflict zones.
"The NGOs buy these foodstuffs en masse to satisfy the demand of the populations in the conflict zones. (...) This year, we have also not yet emerged from the torments of Boko Haram, but these NGOs are supplying the more remote areas, particularly the Adamaoua and Eastern regions, whose populations have the same eating habits as ours. (...) What's more, these NGOs go so far as to supply some of the conflict zones in neighboring countries like Chad and Sudan," Boubakari Abdoulaye Abdoulaye, the regional trade commissioner for the Far North, told L'œil du Sahel.
Brice R. Mbodiam