21 August 2012

Cameroon: Decryptage - Save Our Farmers

The axe of anti-corruption is expected to descent on culprits in the maize, cocoa and coffee sectors where the ill has been eating deep and at a geometric rate. Combined efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the National Anti-corruption Commission (CONAC) may put an end to practices that have almost paralysed activities in the three sectors. The launching of the Rapid Results Initiative by MINADER in the Centre and East Regions sets the ball rolling for real fight to begin.

The trouble in effect is that resources assigned to boost the agriculture sector notably in-puts such as fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, seeds and mechanisation equipment hardly reach their rightful destination. The result is catastrophic with the State losing about 30 per cent of released resources to unproductive hands. Corruption in agriculture is perpetrated by a chain of actors beginning from officials in government offices, notably in the Ministry of Finance and Agriculture. The line is really long. Money released by government to support farmers in their production endeavour passes through several hands with each actor pinching out his or her own share of the "booty". The whole game begins at the level of contract award, stretches into the finance section and continues to the farms. As Minister Essimi Menye himself rightly admitted, several fictitious Common Initiative Groups whose members have nothing to do with agriculture exist and are paradoxically given pride of place in the in-put sharing process.

The Rapid Results Initiative which targets the maize, cocoa and coffee sectors sets out to reduce by 50 per cent the level of corruption within 100 days. Considering the complex nature of the problem and the fact that the moth larva has eaten so deep into the sector, the new programme will require tact, sincerity and determination. Its failure in the two select regions will surely signify eventual failure in other regions. That said, the initiative is worthy of praise and encouragement. It is a trump card that might save our farmers from the wicked hands of administrators and impostures.

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