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Cameroon: Fertiliser scheme could unlock productivity in palm sector

Franc Opinion: The Fertiliser Voucher Programme in Nigeria may provide useful clues on successfully running this initiative in Cameroon, given the risk for rent-seeking behaviour inherent in similar schemes.

palm-oil-1022012_640Cameroon is looking to buy 9,000 tonnes of fertiliser between 2018-2020 to buoy its ailing palm oil sector after output dropped sharply in 2016. Funds will be given to the Cameroonian Union of Palm Oil Producers, in this regard, to sell local producers at discounted prices. Based on projections from the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, about 22% of the target tonnage (2,000 tonnes) will be acquired this year, with around 33% and 45% acquired in 2019 and 2020 respectively. According to official statistics, small-holder farmers account of around 30% of annual output in Cameroon with their yields being severely undermined by a lack of access to industrial fertilisers. As such, incorporating industrial fertilisers in small-holder farming will help boost productivity particularly as reports suggest that small-holder farmers in Africa typically use less than 10kg of fertiliser per hectare, compared with more than 100kg per hectare in South Asia.

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