Cameroon tightens cocoa industry rules to improve bean quality

cocoa-treeCameroon tightened rules governing its cocoa industry to improve the quality of beans.

The government has banned cocoa buyers from imposing a single price and disallowed the practice of mixing cocoa beans of different qualities in stores and warehouses, Trade Minister Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana said in a decree signed on Aug. 14 and obtained by Bloomberg News yesterday.

Cameroon’s cocoa exports declined 16 percent to 2,647 metric tons last week because of poor quality, the Cocoa and Coffee Board said. The country has slipped back to fifth position behind Nigeria on the list of the world’s biggest producers of the chocolate ingredient. Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia’s are the three biggest producers.

Cocoa buyers in Cameroon will need to apply for a card allowing them to operate in the 2009-10 season, which runs from Aug. 1 to July 15 next year, Mbarga Atangana said.

The card, to be issued by the country’s Cocoa and Coffee Inter-professional Council, will help weed out fraudulent operators, he said.

Prices must now be negotiated between the buyer and the grower based on the quality of the beans and the reference price fixed by government through its organizations, Mbarga Atangana. “Door-to-door buying of the beans has been banned,” he added.

Beans are deemed to be of good quality if they have been dried on either clay soil or a cemented arena, are free of foreign bodies, the beans are free from smoke and pesticide odors, and have a humidity rate of less than 8 percent, according to the decree.

Source: Bloomberg

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