CAMEROON – The European Union has extended the Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) programme being implemented in Cameroon by 2 years, to support the banana sector weakened by the covid-19 health crisis and the security crisis experienced in the country.

The program was launched in 2013 with an estimated budget of XAF31.6 billion (US$51.9 million).

“The companies concerned have two more years to complete the actions undertaken to improve the productivity of their plantations and enhance the competitiveness of the sector,” the EU explains.

According to Business in Cameroon, the BAM programme in Cameroon aims to modernize banana cultivation by introducing the use of equipment such as generators and irrigation systems. The programme also plans to modernize and extend the fruit terminal of the Port of Douala.

The objectives of these subsidies are economic growth, poverty reduction in banana-producing regions, the creation of decent jobs, the generation of tax revenues, and the improvement of the country’s trade balance.

The programme is also undertaken in other African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries to address the underlying weakness in the agricultural sector relating to commercial competitiveness and low productivity.

It’s also set to strengthen entrepreneurial and technological development and innovation, implementation of quality standards, improvement of physical infrastructure, development of agricultural information systems and enhancement of risk management systems.

In Africa the other countries involved in the program are Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Banana is one of the main cash crops in Cameroon with more than 355,000 hectares of land put under production.

A report by Selina Wamucii indicates that, Cameroon bananas fruits are among the most popularly known and consumed fruit throughout the world, with more than 100 billion bananas consumed each year.

In April 2020, Cameroon exported 16,102 tons of bananas, according to the banana exporters association Assobacam. Compared with the 13,381 tons it exported in April 2019, this represents an increase of 2,721 tons year-over-year.

This increase is notably due to the performances of PHP, the local subsidiary of Compagnie fruitière de Marseille, whose exports rose by 2,538 tons year-over-year from 12,427 tons in April 2019 to 14,965 tons in April 2020.

The same uptrend performance was achieved by Boh Plantations. This local company exported 1,137 tons of banana during the period under review, up from the 954 tons shipped in April 2019 (+183 tons).

All these performances, despite the coronavirus health crisis, can be explained by the rainy season which started after a harsh dry season.

Due to the dry season, the country’s banana exports fell year-over-year in Q1-2020, notably with a cumulated decrease of 12,000 tons in February and March 2020.