CAMEROON- The IsDB approved the loan during the 47th annual meeting of its Board of Governors, held from 1 to 4 June 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh (Egypt), in which at total of US$ 176.12 million was approved to finance new road transport, health, water and sanitation, and food security projects in 4 member countries namely Guinea Bissau, Togo, Benin and Cameroon.

According to the IsDB the overall objective of the project is to contribute to rice self-sufficiency, enhance economic growth, and improve household incomes through improved production, processing, marketing, and support for private sector participation in the agricultural (rice) value chain.

The objectives will be achieved through the development of 5,000ha of land; rehabilitation of roads; construction of markets; construction of storage facilities; establishment of rice processing units; capacity building of farmers and other stakeholders; and access to finance.

This would result in an increase in rice productivity from 4.5 Ton/Ha to 6 Ton/Ha, an increase in rice National production by 10%, the creation of 210,000 jobs and a reduction in post-harvest losses.

The Cameroonian Minister of Economy, Alamine Ousmane Mey, who was also present at the meeting, said with this initiative, the government seeks to boost the local production of rice and significantly reduce its imports.

Rice is one of the main food products imported into Cameroon. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INS), in the first half of 2021, rice alone accounted for 5% of Cameroon’s total imports, which amounted to US$ 2.9 billion for 5.07 million tons of goods.

To satisfy the growing demand, authorities plan to purchase 400,000 tons of rice this year, at a time when prices have increased on the global market.

Reliable sources reported that these imports will be free of customs duties and other port charges, meaning that in addition to reducing the country’s foreign exchange reserves and widening the trade deficit, the announced rice imports will not provide direct tax and customs revenues to the public treasury.

Moreover, rice imports to the local market are often re-exported to neighboring countries, through smuggling. INS estimated that in 2019, US$ 138.6 million worth of rice was smuggled to countries neighboring Cameroon.

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