(Business in Cameroon) - According to a statement made by Agricultural Minister Gabriel Mbairobe (photo) on state radio station CRTV last Wednesday, the 400,000-hectare land reserve to be created along the Batchenga-Ngaoundéré corridor is dedicated to large agricultural projects.
"90% of our production comes from family farms. But, with the currently growing demand from populations as a result of the soaring galloping demography [...] we need to move to another dimension. This dimension requires us to promote the emergence of medium and large farms with high yields and proven productivity. That is why, we felt that to attract private investment in agriculture, we needed to remove some of the barriers to private investments in agriculture, namely the availability of land reserves. As a result, Mindcaf [ed. note: the Ministry of Land Affairs] and Minader have joined forces to bring this project to fruition,” the official explained.
Indeed, there is a large gap between local production and demand in almost every segment of the Cameroonian agricultural sector. Despite that fact, large-scale projects are not usually implemented in the sector even though the country has been promoting import substitution. This is often due to land disputes between agro-industry promoters and local communities, generally supported by environmental NGOs.
The latest case illustrating that fact is the cancellation of over 66,000 hectares of land reserves in the Ntem Valley. On May 5, 2021, Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute canceled a decree signed in 2016 by his predecessor Philémon Yang to establish the land reserve, after local communities protested against a lease granted to food and beverage company Neo Industry on 26,000 hectares in the reserve. The company was planning to develop cocoa plantations on the land and channel the production to its processing plant at Kekem, in the western region.