Yaounde, Cameroon Africa. February 2011. (Cameroon News) – A huge supply of Plantain gushes into the Yaounde Markets filling them up.
The sudden increase in the supply was paradoxically attributed to the reduced demand for plantain in the previous couple of weeks.
Markets in Yaounde have from the start of February 2011 indicated relatively prominent hikes in the supply of plantain.
In major markets such as Mvog-Mbi, Mvog-Atangana-Mballa, Mfoundi, Acacias or Nkol-Eton, yesterday February 14, lush bunches of ripe and green plantain could be seen lying in hordes as though kept ready to lure customers into buying them.
Price tags that were attached on the bunches indicated prices ranging from FCFA 500, FCFA 1,000, FCFA 1,500, FCFA 2,000 to FCFA 2,500.
These prices indicate the price of the crop had reduced to almost two times lower than what they were being sold for during the previous month.
Even sets of bunches that were retailed for FCFA 500 during January were being sold at FCFA 200.
When the dealers were asked about the sudden increase in supply and the subsequent reduction in prices they stated that the reason for the crop being available in such plenty was that the dry weather that was prevalent in the country from November to February was highly conducive for the crop and maturity happened sooner.
This in turn resulted in harvest season coming in sooner as well and plantain was being transported from the areas of cultivation to the markets for selling.
“Most farm-to-market roads are now passable in production areas around Nyong and Mfoumou, Nyong and So Divisions in the Centre Region as well as in Kadey Division in the East Region, resulting in increased supply to Yaounde,” said Isabelle Nkoudou, a plantain trader in the Mvog-Atangana Mballa market.
Huge supplies were also seen to be coming in from the Mbam Inoubou and Mbam Kim Divisions to sell at the Mokolo, Nkol-Eton, Mbankolo and Melen markets, amongst others.
The spokespersons at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, MINADER, are of the opinion that the credit for increased supply of plantains could also be given to the tremendous success of their campaign to re-position the plantain sector which was put in place to make good the deficit in banana-plantain commonly found in national and sub-regional markets.
In 2009, more than 7,213,213 improved high yielding plants were offered to more than 9,758 farmers from all parts of the country, facilitating for farming to be done in close to 5,774 hectares to yield around 285,813 tonnes of plantain.
The programme had also made forecasts for deploying an area of over 26,663 hectares to ramp up the yield of more than 1,265,352 metric tonnes of plantain by the end of 2010.
In spite of the enormous quantities of plantain being sold in the markets at close to throwaway prices, demand still seemed to be really slow and almost not picking up at all yesterday.
“Customers are complaining of low purchasing power caused by the lack of money,” explained Véronique K., a plantain trader at the Acacias Market in the Biyem-Assi neighborhood.
Isabelle Nkoudou was a trifle sad as he accepted the fact that the excitement that is being seen on the supply front is not being imaged at the demand front.
He also said the previous two weeks of more than lavish supply have not been matched with a similar surge in demand, although plantain remains to be a staple part of the diet in most households across the country. “As you can see, bunches of plantain are ripening and rotting away,” she regretted.
As bunches of plantain stagnate in the local markets, the question is, how come traders from neighbouring countries such as Gabon and Equatorial Guinea do not want the crop?