The drop in banana production due mainly to climate change has pushed stakeholders back to the drawing table for a lasting solution.
Nature has attacked one of the most important crops in the country. Authorities of the three main agro-industries involved in the production of banana, an important cash crop to the Cameroonian economy have been spending sleepless nights to see how best and how far they can counter the effects of climate change, one of the main factors responsible for crop destruction this season.
While at the Cameroon Development Corporation [CDC], production is said to have dropped by 19,000 metric tons, authorities of the Plantations du Haut Penja are licking their wounds over the 300 to 400 hectares of plantation destroyed by tornados. In effect, the CDC expected to produce 119, 000 metric tons this year, but may not be able to attain 100,000 metric tons.
As if that were not enough, there have been widespread fungal and mushroom attacks on the plant as well as on the fruits. This situation has not kept the main buyers of the European Union indifferent. Cameroon, it should be recalled, is the highest supplier of banana among African countries on the European market.
The precarious situation is in effect, a big challenge for stakeholders in the banana sector. This explains why actors are in serious search for a solution. Guided by the country's restructuring programme code name:
Growth and Employment Strategy Paper [GESP], banana producers have been working with the support of the European Union to build up a strategy that can enhance production and improve quality so as to better face the competitive market with producers from Latin America who are presently advantaged by favourable exchange rate.
Through the programme: Banana Accompanying Measures, the European Union has been able to disburse FCFA 31.6 billion for Cameroon, the first country to benefit from the programme. The programme sets out to improve production and better the working conditions of workers.
The programme was conceived against the backdrop that banana production requires a lot of human labour. It equally has as objective to handle problems related to environmental preservation. The three main banana producing companies are expected to take advantage of the EU support to adopt new production techniques taking into consideration the standards set by the GlobalGAP, ISO 14001, Fair trade, market systems.
The Banana Accompanying Measures programme focuses on seven different poles among which are: ensuring the economic sustainability of the sector by stepping up production and stepping down cost of production, improving working conditions of workers, improving environmental conditions for production, and improving the market strategy.
These are certainly interest motivated measures tailored by countries at the receiving end. More still need to be done in terms of research in order to fight fungal diseases and impact of climate change.