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Eastern producers demand 500 million from companies

A deleterious climate currently reigns in the tobacco industry in the Eastern region. The actors look at each other like a faience dog. Indeed, planters, an essential link in the tobacco production chain, are angry with certain commercial companies which have collected their production for several years but have never paid the full money corresponding to the quantities collected. “Personally, I demand the sum of 1,350,000 F. That we stop the deception. Many of our parents died abandoning these certificates of social share and the tobacco collection forms without paying in the suitcases ”, indignant a planter met in Batouri. These planters also denounce the attempt to destroy the sector by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. This is also the subject of a meeting organized in Batouri on May 17, 2020 by tobacco producers from the department of Kadey, the largest production area in the East. At the end of their meeting, they sent a memorandum to the prefect of Kadey relating to “the sanitation of the tobacco sector and improvement of the conditions of the growers”. “We planters, hereby come to present to you our multiple frustrations of which we have always been victims by the operators of the sector. The supply of inputs, the monitoring of activities and the purchase of products have always been biased by the companies “, write the planters to the prefect of Kadey, insisting on” the poor working conditions of the growers, the overestimation of the costs of the farmers. tools offered, the low price per kg of the product purchased, the abandonment of certain products and the late and irregular payment of debts on the part of the companies ”.

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Regarding debts owed to planters in particular, the delegates of the producers’ GICs and the traditional heads of the production zones present at the meeting in Batouri estimated at more than 500 million the debts claimed by about 3,000 producers from commercial companies including the Federation of producers of tobacco and other food products of Cameroon (FPTC) who did not pay for the products collected between 2012 and 2015 from the growers. Contacted on this subject to react, Jean Marc Sambha’a, Provisional Administrator of the FPTC estimates for his part that “the planters have exaggerated, only the 2015 harvest estimated at 150,000,000 F has not been fully paid. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development had promised during the agropastoral fair of the East in December 2020 to give a subsidy of 50,000,000 F to allow the Federation to pay this debt and 40,000,000 Frs for salary arrears. of the staff of the Federation, that is to say a sum of 90,000,000 F ”he specifies.

The delimitation of the contested areas

Apart from the arrears claimed from commercial companies, tobacco growers do not agree with the zoning imposed by MINADER. “Despite this mistreatment that we are undergoing, we have taken note with indignation of the report of the meeting of certain operators of the tobacco sector chaired by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development on December 21, 2020 in Bertoua . We, the producers being the main players in the tobacco industry, were excluded from the said meeting. This exclusion is a destruction of the tobacco industry with regard to the measures taken at the said meeting, mainly, the delimitation of the scope of action of the companies around the acquired processing centers, a delimitation of an intervention scope of 50 kilometers ”, write the planters to the prefect, reminding the administrative authority that “instead of seeking to remedy the problems of the producers, the concerned seek rather to worsen our situation by ignoring the law N0 95/11 of July 25, 1995”. This provides in its article 1 that: “the marketing of basic products is open to regularly constituted companies and to organizations created by producers and to local processing units”. In paragraph 2 of the same article, the law prohibits the monopoly concession of purchasing areas as well as the allocation of quests reserved for operators of these products. Article 8.2 of the same law also prohibits agreements between buyers or their organization with a view to imposing a single price on producers ”.

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Despite the provisions of the law mentioned above, Romio Mpoack, departmental delegate of Minader de la Kadey held a meeting with commercial companies by dismissing planters on May 25, 2021 in Batouri. It was a question of insisting on the respect of the delimitation of the zones established by the Minader. A supporting decision contested by some tobacco companies. In particular Cameroon Golding Wrapper and Tobecam who denounce the violation of the law on the marketing of basic products which prohibits the monopoly concession of purchasing areas as well as the allocation of quests reserved for operators of these products. For some observers, the reappearance of the Minader to delimit the zones and give a subsidy of 90 million FCFA to the Federation to pay its arrears of products collected from the planters arouses curiosity. “I am very surprised to hear that the Minader will grant a subsidy for the arrears of the planters and the salaries of a company because the Minader no longer intervenes in the sector”, regrets, Pierre Koéké, engineer of agricultural works and expert in tobacco production.

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The crisis that wants to settle again in the tobacco sector is a serious threat to the recovery process initiated in 2018.

“We need a standard purchase price for tobacco”

Mboble Age Regional president of the national platform of professional agro-sylvo-pastoral and fishery organizations in Cameroon (Planopac).

Tobacco producers are dependent on tobacco companies which support them with seeds, agricultural inputs and supervision. As a result, the producer is obliged to sell his production to the company which supported him. But companies have to pay cash to avoid the problem of arrears. On the other hand, there is unfair competition due to the fact that a planter, after having received the support of a company, prefers to sell his production to another company which offers a more attractive price. To solve this problem, the purchase price per kilogram of tobacco must be stabilized according to the category, as happens in the cocoa sector. And this price must be jointly set by the Ministries of Trade and Agriculture, in the presence of representatives of producers and tobacco companies. In addition, instead of subsidizing a commercial company to clear the backlog of products collected from producers, it would be more judicious to subsidize the producer directly to make him more autonomous.

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