Companies refining oilseeds in Cameroon have been forced to curtail production by 50 per cent due to the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Cameroon Association of Refiners of Oilseeds popularly known by its French acronym ASROC, none of the member companies of the association currently operates above fifty percent of its capacity.
The adverse effects of the pandemic on this business sector have brought about a drop in the sale of finished products due to the difficulties encountered in accessing both internal and external markets as well as slowdown in replenishing stocks within the market network.
The Secretary General of the Association, Jacquis Kemleu Tchabgou says the sector has actually witnessed a deficit of 60,000 tons in raw palm oil in the first transformation industries.
Current statistics evaluate the annual raw oil palm production in Cameroon at 360,000 tons. This is as against an agglomerated industrial demand of 1.2 million tons per year.
“The consequence of this is that there is an acute necessity to import in order to avoid the shortage of finished products which are refined palm oil, and probably with time, washing soap as well as the risk of inflation which could be sparked off”, the ASROC Secretary General declared.
In order to avoid such a situation, the actors in the sector have received the approval of the government to import 70,000 tons of raw palm oil within the coming days.
Meanwhile, local economists are of the opinion that there would have been no need to import raw palm oil into Cameroon if some local producers were not exporting palm oil to neighbouring countries.
“Gabon depends to a large extent on palm oil imported from Cameroon and most smallholder producers within the border villages to Nigeria sell their oil across the border in Nigeria”, economist Atinda George revealed.