(Business in Cameroon) - Cameroon imported 920,400 tons of wheat in 2022, according to data just published by the National Institute of Statistics (INS). The imports, which cost CFAF260.7 billion, were down 46,000 tons (-4.8%) compared with the 966,400 tons imported in 2021.
With 292,500 tons of wheat (CFAF78.6 billion) or 30.1% of overall imports, France was Cameroon’s leading wheat supplier during the period. The partner country outperformed Russia, which was till then the leading supplier of wheat consumed in Cameroon.
Owing to import challenges linked to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, Russia supplied just 14.1% of the overall wheat imported by Cameroon in 2022. It supplied just 138,000 tons (against 524,000 tons in 2021), which cost CFAF36.9 billion (against CFAF99.2 billion in 2021).
Russia was also outperformed by Argentina, which became Cameroon’s second leading wheat supplier with 157,500 tons (CFAF42.1 billion) of wheat or 16.2% of overall imports supplied.
Poland and Canada closed the top 5 of Cameroon’s wheat suppliers in 2022. The two countries respectively exported 119,000 and 50,500 tons of wheat to Cameroon in 2022, at a cost of 36.8 and 17.4 billion FCFA respectively. The shipments represented 14.1% and 6.7% of the overall wheat imported by Cameroon during the period under review.
To show just how harmful wheat imports are to Cameroon's trade balance, the INS reveals that between 2018 and 2022, this cereal was the product G7 countries sold to Cameroon the most. After oil (CFAF581 billion) and rice (CFAF356 billion), wheat was the third product Cameroon imported the most (CFAF329 billion) from the BRICS, a group made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
According to the INS, Cameroon's dependence on wheat and other products such as rice imported from the G7 and BRICS countries widens the trade deficit and erodes the country's foreign currency reserves. To reduce that dependence, the country needs to accelerate “the implementation of policy measures advocated in the SND30 (National Development Strategy 2020-2030), focusing on the one hand on structural transformation and modernization of the national economy and, on the other, on the policy of import-substitution for certain imports, especially those for which Cameroon has proven potential and comparative advantages," the INS wrote.
Brice R. Mbodiam