Yaounde — Cocoa prices in Cameroon are surging as farmers in the biggest producing regions flee an escalating conflict between government forces and a movement that wants independence for English-speaking territories.
Producer pay in the world’s fifth-biggest cocoa grower jumped by more than two-fifths in the week up to July 3, compared with the previous seven days, according to figures from the Cameroon National Association of Cocoa and Coffee Producers. The disruption of farming activities in the Northwest and Southwest regions exacerbate a decline in output from the smaller mid-crop, Michael Ndoping, director-general of the National Cocoa and Coffee Board, said by phone on Wednesday from the economic capital, Douala.
Cocoa farmers "have escaped into the bushes for fear of the unrest", said Ndoping, adding that the total impact of the conflict won’t be quantifiable until the end of the season in September.
Protests against the dominance of the use of French in courts and schools in English-speaking regions, which account for about a fifth of the population, have turned violent since last year. Some secessionists have taken up arms that prompted a crackdown by armed forces.
Cameroon produced an estimated 246,000 tonnes of cocoa in the season through September 2017, accounting for about 5.2% of global output, according to data from the International Cocoa Organisation.