5 February 2018

Cameroon: Alleged Scarcity of Basic Commodities - Trade Minister Refutes Claims

Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana made the observation during a field visit to importers in Douala on February 1,2018.

In reaction to allegations that there was scarcity of some basic commodities like fish and rice in the market ushering a price hike, the Minister of Trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana made an inspection visit to some major suppliers in Douala to attest the veracity.

The visit took him to Congelcam which deals in the supply of fish and also to SOACAM and AGRIEX dealing with the supply of cereals like rice. It came out from the visit that there was enough fish and rice in the market but the problem had to do with the price which the Minister said depends on the dynamics of the market.

"Fish has not got to have only one price in the market because the price depends on the dynamics of the market at a given time", he said. "The important thing is that there is enough fish and rice in the market", he added.

The Congelcam warehouse near the Port of Douala, there were stock piles of cartons of fish in giant cold rooms, ready to be distributed to the market. Workers could be found loading cartons of fish into trucks for onward transmission to the market. At the SOACAM and AGRIEX, it was the same scenario with tons of bags of rice stock-piled waiting for wholesalers to come and collect.

According to the president of the orientation committee at the Agro-alimentary technical centre, Jacquis Kemleu Tchabgou, his company imports rice only to complement the deficit in the Cameroon market and that they make sure to import good quality rice which they sell at a stable price.

The Minister on each stop urged the suppliers to make sure these commodities were in constant supply and that they should not only be interested in importing but also get involved in local production.

It is worthy to note that there has been a hike in the price of fish of recent in the economic capital giving the impression there was a shortage in supply. A kilo of 'maquereau' which used to cost FCFA1,350 now sells for FCFA 1,450 and sellers attribute the increase in price to shortage of supply, which is not true.

Speculators also create artificial scarcity so as to provoke price increase. Prior to the field visit, the Minister of Trade took part in a press briefing announcing a new trade fair to take place in Douala from March 24th to April, christened FIAC.

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