CAMEROON – Four palm oil refiners are set to join the Cameroon edible oil industry marking a significant step forward in harnessing local resources for agricultural growth, according to the Oilseeds Refiners Association (ASROC).

The monumental paradigm shift in palm oil is a result of an investment of more than CFAF50 billion (US482M) investment for an agro-industrial complex that became operational after two years under construction.  

According to Business Cameroon, so far, the complex has created more than 300 jobs, with a daily production capacity of 500 tons of refined oil and eight tons of soap, according to company sources.  

However, for many years, Cameroon has been running an annual structural deficit, where processors are faced with raw material shortfall despite the anticipated boost in processing.

ASROC says that the shortage peaked at 160,000 tons in 2022, from 130,000 tons in 2020 caused by a faster increase in processing capacity than in crude palm oil production capacity in the country.

This supply shortfall forces operators to import about massive tons a year to meet their domestic demand.

These four agro-industrial units, which include Société de raffinage du Cameroun (SORAC) and Nouvelle Raffinerie du Cameroun, and two others will join Novia, which launched its activities in the Bonabéri industrial zone in Douala, around 5 months ago.

With its oil brand “Oleo” and soap brands “Uno” and “Jazz” that are already available in markets and supermarkets across Cameroon, Novia, and the newcomers are expected to boost competition in the oil refinery sector.

According to Business Cameroon, SORAC, which is controlled by businessman Nassourou Alhadji Issa aims to market 100,000 tons of refined oil yearly.

According to actors in the palm oil industry, in the first half of 2023 alone, refiners imported around 150,000 tons of palm oil, equivalent to the total volume imported in 2022.

According to the ASROC, the yearly crude palm oil demand from industrial crude palm oil processing units, whose number is growing, now exceeds a million tons.  

To solve the ever-growing supply shortage, the Cameroonian government introduced a quota policy based on which industrial production (production from village plantations is not concerned, editor’s note) is distributed to processors, depending on their installed processing capacities.

However, critics against that policy are growing with some operators believing that it establishes a kind of unfair competition. 

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