YAOUNDE (Reuters) – Cameroon’s cocoa production rose nearly 16 percent year-on-year to 269,495 tonnes in the 2015/16 season, National Cocoa and Coffee Board (NCCB) data released on Thursday showed.
Africa’s fourth-largest cocoa producer has targeted annual production of 600,000 tonnes by 2020. The 2016/17 season opened on Wednesday.
The 2015/16 figure surpassed the central African country’s previous record of 240,000 tonnes during the 2010/11 season. Output since then has fluctuated due to pests, crop diseases and a prolonged dry season.
Cameroon’s government is trying to encourage young people and women to grow the crop and to prevent illegal export to neighboring countries.
Last year, Cameroon announced plans to double its cocoa processing capacity to about 30 percent of its total production, by adding 10 new processing units.
Cameroon’s cocoa season runs from Aug. 1 to July 1. The main harvest is from October to January/February, followed by a light crop harvest period from April/May to June/July.
(Reporting By Sylvain Andzongo; writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Adrian Croft and Alexandra Hudson)