(Business in Cameroon) - The pilot phase of the arable land development project, as outlined in a framework signed on May 17, 2023, between the Ministry of Agriculture (Minader) and the National Center for Agricultural Machinery Studies and Experimentation (Ceneema), was approved by the Ceneema board on October 26. This initiative, designed to develop lands and support large and medium-scale producers in the Adamaoua and Center regions, entails Minader allocating funds to Ceneema for space development based on producers' business plans.
Sources close to the project reveal that Ceneema, the primary player in the State's efforts to promote agricultural mechanization, was selected for its extensive experience in developing agropastoral spaces through mechanized means. To materialize this pilot phase, Ceneema's budget was increased from nearly CFA2.3 billion to over CFA5 billion, representing an increase of more than CFA2.7 billion. Sources indicate that this upward trend is expected to continue over several fiscal years. In addition to the arable land development project, the institution also foresees being entrusted with the management of the tractor assembly plant located in Ebolowa in the coming days.
The five-year project, initially planned for 400,000 hectares, now covers 515,000 hectares secured in the departments of Djèrem, Mbéré (Adamaoua region), and Mbam-et-Kim (Center region), we learned. The project, which has been in gestation since 2015 and whose total cost is estimated at CFA351 billion, was launched on May 24, 2023, in Yaoundé by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (Minader), Gabriel Mbairobe, and the Minister of Lands, land registry, and Land Affairs, Henri Eyebe Ayissi. These two ministers are respectively the project's carrier and facilitator.
The project aims to develop over one million hectares of identified land. The State's contribution, according to Minader, will be used to compensate the populations whose land is affected by the project and to build infrastructures such as roads, health centers, etc. Ultimately, the project will increase local production and reduce long-term imports through import substitution. To achieve this goal, the plan is to provide potential investors with developed land for agricultural production in nine municipalities scattered across the Adamaoua (63%) and Central (37% of identified lands) regions. The project focuses on cultivating rice, maize, cocoa, plantains, yams, potatoes, soybeans, cassava, and vegetables.
According to the National Institute of Statistics (INS), import expenditures reached CFA3,871.4 billion by the end of 2021 (+21.8%). This increase was driven, among other factors, by rice (207.9 billion, +5.4%), cereals (398.5 billion, +10.3%), and maize (6.4 billion, +0.2%).