License Buying Agents(LBAs) in the cocoa sector in the South West Region of Cameroon have suspended the buying of cocoa beans pending, Sunday October 7 Presidential election, The National Times has learnt.
Across the major cocoa production basins of the Region, buyers who had defied security threats to engage in businesses have folded up their activities.
Hundreds of families trapped in the bushes are without money as these buyers wait for the pressure associated with the election to dwindle before they can resume activities.
In Manyu , Meme and Fako Division, the activity which is the mainstay of the people is grounded. Tons of dried cocoa beans are piled up in stores waiting for the period after October 7.
The LBAs are the major channels through which money circulate in cocoa farming localities.
James Impa, an LBA in the interior of Meme Division said, all workers of his company in the villages had been recalled to the office two weeks back.
Impa disclosed that as the narrative on the Presidential election draws nearer, separatists and soldiers made life difficult for the cocoa business.
The cocoa merchant said most of his colleagues in Manyu and parts of Fako Division have lost cocoa worth millions through arson attacks on cocoa stores.
“Imagine that you have bought cocoa for FCFA 20 million and one-night people come in a military raid against separatists and burn the building and the cocoa to ashes…. when it is not the burning of cocoa stores… it is the so called Amba Boys asking for hundreds of thousands as support,” Impa told The National Times.
Across Kumba, the headquarters of the biggest cocoa production basin in Cameroon, most companies exporting cocoa have shutdown activities. Tens of hilux and other vehicles which cruise on the rough village roads are all idling in front of companies.
At the moment, farmers who have cocoa beans cannot sell them to sustain their families given the fear across the board. John Njinya, a cocoa farmer, asserted that “the buyers said they have only stopped to escape the pressure of the election… we pray that peace reigns so that the business will go on normally… I have two bags of cocoa already with my buyer, but he says he cannot pay until things normalise after the election,” Njinya said.
Before now, most of those still sustaining the cocoa industry in the troubled South West Region were doing so at an extra cost. The separatists’ threats and military raids across most villages in recent weeks to the election further compounded the business uncertainty.