The Prime Minister and Head of Government, Chief Dr Joseph Dion Ngute says a plan to revive local tomato production is currently being drawn up and will provide for a series of accompanying measures.
The PM’s statement is contained in a release issued after the weekly meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee in charge of evaluatiing and monitoring the implementation of Government’s response strategy against COVID-19 Pandemic in Cameroon.
The meeting held Thursday July 16, 2020 by videoconference.
Some of the measures earmarked to boost local production are;
1- The strengthening of technical capacities for the production and processing of tomatoes.
2- Provision of support to farmers in the form of inputs and agricultural equipments.
During the meeting, instructions were given to the Minister of Trade, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gabriel Mbairobe to reflect on the measures.
The statement from the government of Cameroon is coming days after the National President of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM party, Prof Maurice Kamto accused the government of haven abandoned the tomato sector.
Maurice Kamto insinuated that if nothing is done and fast, the future of the sector will be blurred.
The tamato sector to him is very important to the economy of the nation. He went as far as to justify;
“…If the Government remains in it’s usual indifference, our country will sustainably compromise the usual income from the marketing of tomatoes, that is 720 Billion FCFA per year on the foreign market (CEMAC Zone) and 140 Billion FCFA on the domestic market.”
The challenges faced by tomato farmers are as a result of the closure of borders due to Covid-19.
A situation that caused a drop in the market of tomatoes with a basket sold at 700 FCFA as of 3500 FCFA when borders were open.
Trucks were even spotted roaming the streets of the nation’s capital auctioning crates of tomatoes for 2000 FCFA as of 7000 FCFA before the pandemic.
News Upfront gathered that some two tomato farmers almost committed suicide at “Marche 8 éme” in Yaounde after watching their goods worth millions of FCFA perish.
There is therefore an urgent need to assist farmers revive local tomato production in the country to compensate the drastic effects of COVID-19.
It should be noted that under President Ahmadou AHIDJO, there was a tomato processing plant (SCAN) in Foumbot, West region of Cameroon.
The equipments have since been left in ruins according to the release from Prof. Maurice Kamto.