Cameroonian cocoa often faces problems of discounting on the market. These problems are due to the drying methods used by the producers, which call into question its quality.
As part of the Agricultural Value Chain Development Project (PD-CVA), the Cameroonian Ministry of Agriculture aims to build 55 modern cocoa dryers in the southwest. This project aims to maintain the highest quality of beans on the market. To this end, the coordinator of the agricultural infrastructure and value chain development project, Besong Ntui Ogork, has just launched the recruitment of contractors. These providers are expected to apply by 17 March.
The departments that will benefit from the dryers are: Fako, Meme, Kupe Manengouba, Manyu and Ndian. In these areas, dryers will be accompanied by fermentation structures. This will improve the quality of the cocoa sold, as opposed to the traditional process of drying it over a fire in traditional dryers. It should be noted that these drying methods are due to the climatic realities of the South West. In fact, the climate in the southwest region of Cameroon is characterised by high humidity. The very high temperatures make the weather sometimes pleasant but also tropical and humid. Faced with these climatic realities, cocoa farmers have no choice but to harvest in the rainy season in this region of the country.
Poor production quality results in a loss of value.
Cameroonian cocoa is gradually losing its value on the market because of its humidity and smoky smell. For example, in 2017, the value of cocoa fell by CFAF 200 per kilogram due to its perceived lower quality. Further on in 2013, the National Association of Cocoa and Coffee Producers (ANPCC) revealed that 2,000 tonnes of Cameroonian cocoa were turned away from European ports because they smelled of smoke. This resulted in a loss of CFAF 3 billion to the exporter who bought it.
Apart from the traditional dryers, some cocoa farmers are used to drying their product on asphalt. These processes result in cocoa being poisoned with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or impregnated with a strong smoky odour. All the more reason to build modern cocoa dryers in the southwest region.
The main purpose of drying cocoa is to reduce the moisture content of the fermented beans from 60% to less than 8%, in order to ensure good storage conditions for the cocoa. It should be noted that this operation, which takes one to two weeks, should not be too slow or too fast. Because its slowness can lead to mouldy seeds and its speed can turn the seeds into acids. In this way, fermentation continues during the drying process. The drying conditions therefore depend on the fermentation conditions.
As a reminder, Cameroon is the 4th largest producer of cocoa in the world and the 3rd largest in the continent. Its ambition is to increase cocoa production to 640,000 tonnes by 2030.