(Business in Cameroon) - In 2020, Cameroon’s local production covered just 24.3% of its rice demand, according to figures published by the Ministry of Agriculture (MINADER). According to the MINADER, the country produced 140,170 tons of rice while the demand was estimated at 576,940 tons, revealing a gap of 436,779 tons. Based on a yearly rice consumption of 25-kg per resident in Cameroon, the ministry estimates the yearly local rice production at 350,000 tons, representing 600,000 tons of paddy rice.
It then announces that the government intends to increase production capacity in the rice sector to at least 350,000 tons of milled rice by 2023.
In that regard, the ministry provided technical and financial support to cooperatives and agribusinesses for the production of quality seeds, the extension of modern rice production techniques, and the improvement of harvesting and post-harvest techniques through various projects. Also, 37,500 additional hectares of hydroagricultural zones are being created in the country.
Meanwhile, the country is still importing rice to fill its deficit. According to the national institute for statistics, the country’s rice imports rose by 59.4% year-over-year in 2019 (from 561,112 tons in 2018 to 894,486 tons in 2019). The value of those imports rose by 60.9% during that period to XAF231.8 billion.
If this trend is not reversed, the imports will continue to erode the local currency, since Cameroon will spend its external assets necessary for trades outside the CEMAC region. As it stands, this currency erosion can create various economic problems including currency crises, trade balance deficits, difficulty in repaying the external debt, etc.