The malaise that haunts the cotton sector in the country is expected to begin losing its grip if renewed determination shown by stakeholders is anything to go by. The FCFA 260 million revamping project government entered into with Ligne Rouge Consulting Firm on July 12, 2017 is expected to hop the sector off the current quagmire.
The optimism is heightened by the fact that the 18-month project will organise producers into clusters to boost productivity. Even as the project alone cannot wholly surmount all the challenges starring the sector in the face, it presents at least glimmers of hope for better prospects. It couldn't have been better given the dwindling fortunes of Cameroon's cotton sector for some time now. The country today imports textile products to the tune of FCFA 200 billion and what local initiatives can fetch barely amounts to FCFA 142 billion (2013 statistics). This is disturbing given the number of people the sector employs and its importance to the socio-economic life of the country.
In the face of these difficulties and coupled with the not-so-healthy national and global economic environment, togetherness of all actors is non-negotiable. Unity, they say, is strength and stakeholders in the cotton sector cannot afford to minimise it in times like this. The revamping project underway relies on the unity of the actors. Cotton producers in the country mutually share the difficulties as they cannot produce substantially. Even when they hit what would have been considered their skies like in 2015 when statistics showed a 38 per cent increase in the last three years to hit 295,400 metric tons, financial spinoffs from such production still left much to be desired.
The greatest challenge appears to be processing of the produce to semi or even finished products. Local processing is reportedly at a paltry 2 per cent. The current project could be a springboard. But success depends on how committed and united actors would be to accept constituting themselves into the clusters. Egocentric thoughts and behaviours would be damaging. In unity, best practices could be sought, production grouped, value-addition enhanced and sales better organised. It's easily a do or die approach!