CAMEROON – Cameroon witnessed a remarkable surge in maize imports during the year 2023, as revealed by the latest External Trade Report published by the National Institute of Statistics (INS).

The figures indicate a staggering 229% increase compared to the previous year, marking a notable rebound from a significant decline experienced in 2022.

Data analysis reveals that 2023 marks Cameroon’s highest maize import volume in the five-year period from 2018 to 2023.

The report discloses that maize imports soared to 39,991.3 tons, valued at CFA7.8 billion (US$13M), reflecting a stark contrast to the 64.4% decline observed in 2022.

Previously, the peak import volume was recorded in 2021, with 34,100 tons. This is a substantial increase from the import figures of 13,700 tons, 14,600 tons, and 19,600 tons in 2018, 2019, and 2020, respectively.

The import data aligns with the FAO’s report, which noted that crop production in 2023 was severely affected by conflicts and climate, resulting in high prices for locally produced maize.

As a result, the FAO estimated that about 3 million people were severely food insecure in 2023

However, according to the INS, the resurgence in maize imports aligns closely with the strengthening of local supply chains, following the commissioning of a maize processing plant within the Compagnie Fermière du Cameroun (CFC) in November 2021.

CFC, a subsidiary of the agro-industrial giant Société Anonyme des Boissons du Cameroun (SABC), under the ownership of the French conglomerate Castel, has emerged as a pivotal player in the domestic maize market.

To ensure a steady supply of raw materials, CFC has committed to supporting 30,000 to 40,000 farmers organized in cooperatives to develop maize fields covering around 12,000 hectares.

This concerted effort has yielded tangible results, with the maize grits production supplementing the annual purchase of roughly 10,000 tons from Maïscam, a prominent company based in the Adamaoua region.

Despite these concerted efforts to bolster local production, the surge in maize imports during 2023 can be attributed to two primary factors identified in the INS report.

Firstly, a potential slowdown in maize grits production either at Maïscam or within the cooperatives supported by CFC may have necessitated additional imports to fulfill the demands of SABC’s grits production requirements.

Secondly, an upsurge in maize purchases by stakeholders in the national poultry sector, where maize serves as a fundamental component of animal feed, further fueled the demand for imports.

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