Vendors say demand for home-grown rice has increased, despite being costlier, but getting stocks to respond to growing demand remains a hurdle.
Consumption of home-grown rice is on the rise but supply to respond to the growing demand of Cameroonian rice remains a problem, several rounds of investigation in the city of Yaounde by Cameroon Tribune has shown. At the esplanade of the Ministry of Trade; the major sales point of Cameroonian rice, vendors tell of a sweet-bitter story.
"Many Cameroonians have not been aware of the presence of Cameroonian rice; which is of best quality compared to other brands of imported rice, in the market. However, the trend is changing as more people are adopting different varieties of home-grown rice. But as of now, we lack stocks," Fassie Jean Philippe, a vendor, said. According to Fassie, he lastly got a supply of 18 tons of Ndop rice on December 18, 2018, and has not been able to get another supply since the stock got finished. The socio-political unrest in the North West Region has further frustrated efforts to get the edible grains from Ndop to the market.
Cameroon Tribune observed that four main varieties or brands of rice were available in the market, notably Ndop rice (white and part boil), Riz Great Valley rice produced by AFRIFOOD COOP - CA, Riz Logone perfumed rice and others produced by SEMRY. Comparatively, all local rice brands packaged in plastics and bags of 1kg, 2kg, 4kg, 5kg, 25kg and 50kg cost more than similar quantities of imported rice from China, Thailand, Indonesia and India. On an average, a 50kg bag of Cameroonian rice sells at FCFA 20,000 as compared to FCFA 16,500 for imported rice.
Vendors say the price of Cameroonian rice is costlier because producers prefer to sell to neighbouring Nigeria, a trend confirmed by Ndah nee Nji Nkemboh Mirabel, Director of Internal Trade in the Ministry of Trade. However, government has been taking concerted actions to promote the consumption of home-grown rice, as well as other local products.
According to the Director of Internal Trade, government has helped to bring local rice to city centers. Nji Nkemboh said the government had given a subvention to SEMRY to acquire rice husking mills.
During 'Consumption Days'; three days of auction sale during payday for civil servants, the Director of Internal Trade said they always make sure Cameroonian rice is on the stands. They have also urge supermarkets and other big shopping outfits to make available 'Made in Cameroon' products, including local rice.