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Countries / Territories

Country Profile Cameroon

  • CAMEROON

    Location

    Cameroon forms a bridge between West Africa and Central Africa. The triangle-shaped country is bounded one the east by Chad and the Central African Republic; on the south by the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea; and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and Nigeria. Measuring about 700 km east to west and 1,200 km from north to south, Cameroon covers an area of 475,442 km2. The country's climate varies with terrain, from tropical along coast to semiarid and hot in north.

    Agricultural sector

    Agriculture is the main pillar of Cameroon's economy. It accounts for 43 % of GDP, employs 70 % of the working population and generates more than one third of total export earnings (Fresh Produce Journal 2004). Main agricultural products include plantains, cattle meat, cocoa beans, taro, bananas, maize, fresh vegetables and groundnuts. Cameroon's primary export crops are cocoa, cotton, coffee, bananas, rubber and palm oil (FAO, 14.07.2006). The country's main export partner is the European Union. However, still the bigger part of agricultural activity is confined to subsistence level farming.

    Overview of organic farming

    As in most West African countries, the organic sector in Cameroon is still underdeveloped. Estimates of certified organic production suggest that 7,000 hectares of land are under organic management accounting for 0.08 % of the total agricultural area (IFOAM & FiBL 2006). The country shows a strong potential for further developing the organic sector to meet export opportunities and create a more sustainable form of agriculture. High premiums for organic produce, the increasing costs of synthetic farm inputs and a lack of support for ordinary farming have led to some entire areas spontaneously converting to organic farming (IFOAM 2003).

    Key organic products

    Cameroon is well known for its climatic, geographic and ecological diversity, which enables farmers to grow a wide variety of crops. The most frequently cultivated export crops on Cameroonian organic farms are bananas, pineapples, avocadoes, mangoes, papayas, coffee and cocoa. Other certified products include herbs, spices, tubers and medical plants. There is a growing emphasis on processing some of the fruit crops through drying, pulping and juicing (IFOAM 2003).

    The network

    In Cameroon, there are two organisations gathering operators of the organic sector: ASPABIC (Association for the Promotion of Organic Agriculture in Cameroon) in the French-speaking part and AVEGRO in the English-speaking area. Both groups concentrate on promoting the sector and raising public awareness. They provide their members with information services, technical assistance and training.

    Two external bodies, IMO and Ecocert, offer organic certification services in Cameroon (IFOAM 2003).

    ASPABIC
    Philomène Bomia
    Tel.: + 237 439 126
    Fax: + 237 374 507

    External Support

    The Cameroon organic agriculture sector has been receiving support from the following external organisations amongst others:

    Capacity Building International, Germany (InWEnt)
    International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM)
    Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
    German Technical Cooperation (GTZ)
    Network for Ecofarming in Africa (NECOFA) 

    References

    • FAO, 14.07.2006: Key Statistics of Food and Agriculture External Trade. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Statistics Division. URL: www.fao.org/es/ess/toptrade/trade.asp?dir=exp&country=3&ryear=2004 and www.fao.org/es/ess/top/country.html?lang=en
       
    • Fresh Produce Journal (2004): Fresh Produce Desk Book 2004. London.
       
    • IFOAM (2003): Organic and Like-Minded Movements in Africa. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Bonn, pp.102-108.
       
    • IFOAM & FiBL (2006): The World of Organic Agriculture. Statistics and Emerging Trends 2006. International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Bonn & Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Frick, pp. 27-35.