Cocoa deliveries in Cameroon have dropped sharply so far this season as heavy rains render roads impassable and slow the bean-drying process in Africa’s fourth-largest grower, producers said this week.
The situation, caused by badly maintained rural tracks, could take weeks to improve, according to Cameroon’s National Coffee and Cocoa Board, potentially causing a prolonged drop off in deliveries to the port of Douala.
“There is a big delay because of rain,” said the director of an international export company based in Douala. “We have such a backlog of arrivals from the main harvest.“
The company has purchased 30 percent less beans since the 2016/17 season began in August, he said.
Some operators have bought beans from less problematic areas nearer cities, though it has not made up for the shortfall from rural areas.
Cameroon’s cocoa production rose nearly 16 percent year-on-year to 269,495 tonnes in the 2015/16 season, data showed in August. It has targeted annual production of 600,000 tonnes by 2020.
Most beans are exported to Europe.
The nation’s cocoa season runs from August to July. The main harvest is from October to January/February, followed by a light crop harvest period from April/May to June/July.