Some 60,000 cocoa farmers in Cameroon are to get a boost to their livelihoods from a local company that has signed up to Business Call to Action (BCtA), a global initiative that aims to support private sector efforts in the fight against poverty
Cameroonian cocoa producer Noha Nyamedjo Company has committed to build and operate a high-tech processing plant that will turn cocoa beans into high-quality butter, powder and liquor, requiring an additional 5,000 tonnes of cocoa purchases from local farmers.
“Up until now, the major challenge has been to transform raw cocoa into higher-value products,” said Amanda Gardiner, Acting BCtA Program Manager. “Through this initiative, Noha is helping to improve earning potential for farmers, increase Cameroon’s cocoa trading status, and enhance cocoa and coffee trading revenues.”
Noha is one of Cameroon’s top five producers and exporters of cocoa and will invest $24mn in the plant which will process 16,000 tonnes of beans during the initial three years, and 25,000 tonnes per year thereafter.
Construction of the plant will begin soon and is expected to start operating by March 2012. Noha has mobilised funds for the venture in collaboration with the Development Bank of Central African States.
In addition to improving earnings to cocoa famers, Cameroon’s first cocoa processing plant will provide full-time employment and training for about 145 employees and support growth and diversification of the country’s agriculture-based economy.
Cameroon is the world’s fifth largest producer of cocoa beans, with around 90 per cent of its annual production exported to western markets for processing. The sector accounts for 4.5 per cent of total primary sector employment.
“This is a business opportunity, but it also delivers real value to local people,” says Noha Mésack, the company’s chief executive officer. “Today bean growers and exporters in Cameroon primarily depend on the exchange of raw materials, which are subject to dramatic price fluctuations in the market. Our initiative aims to counter that trend, which can have a significant positive impact for the local economy.”
Noha’s pledge is part of a commitment under BCtA, launched in 2008 to encourage businesses to step up their progress towards meeting anti-poverty by challenging companies to develop business models often described as “pro-poor” or “people centred”.