YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Cameroon exported 27,524 tonnes of cocoa beans in the month of October, bringing the total for the season so far to 64,937 tonnes, according to statistics from the National Cocoa and Coffee Board (NCCB) sent to Reuters.
That is down on the 69,702 tonnes exported by the same point last season. The data, confirmed by the Cocoa and Coffee Interprofessional Board (CCIB) also showed a decline in the month compared to the the 33,930 tonnes exported in the same month last season.
Cameroon is the world’s fifth largest grower.
Speaking to Reuters, CCIB chief operations officer Andre Marie Lema attributed the drop to persistent heavy rainfall during the month in the leading South-West and Centre growing regions which slowed down the drying process.
A manager at the second main exporter Cameroon Marketing Commodities (CAMACO) based in Kumba in the South-West added that the rains further deteriorated the poor state of earth roads, hampering produce evacuation from remote areas.
Cameroon’s cocoa season runs from August 1 to July 31, with the main harvest period from October to January/February. The Centre and South-West regions account for 40 percent each of the country’s cocoa production and the remainder comes from the South and East regions, although cultivation is extending rapidly to the Littoral region as well as the deep valleys with warm temperatures of the high plateau West, North-West and Adamawa regions.
The output of the main cash crop from the leading economy of the six-nation CEMAC (Central African Economic and Monetary Community) zone hit an all-time record of 240,000 tonnes in 2010/11, up from 210,000 tonnes in 2008/09.
The state-run Cocoa Development Authority (SODECAO) sees it rising to 250,000 tonnes in 2011/12 due mainly to cultivation of improved varieties.
The number of exporters during October to 24 from 25 in September. Telcar Cocoa Ltd topped the chart with 6,019 tonnes, followed by Cameroon Marketing Commodities (CAMACO) with 5,518 tonnes, Olam Cam 5,116 tonnes, Ets Ndongo Essomba 1,806 tonnes and Achanyi and Sons with 1,505 tonnes.
Separately, Cameroon’s lone local cocoa beans grinder Sic-Cacaos said it purchased some 5,346 tonnes in October, up from 3,745 tonnes in September, bringing the total since the beginning of the 2011/12 season to 11,182 tonnes.
The October figure showed a slight drop from the 5,612 tonnes for the same month last season which brought the total since the beginning of the season to 11,896 tonnes.