Made In Cameroon : Beyond Slogans!

A growing awareness to enhance the local industry as the world keeps unfolding with its unpredictable realities has been welcome by many in Cameroon. Since the financial crisis in 2008 and the recent outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, calls for made in Cameroon brands are ever increasing. Some even talk about the issue as if they have suddenly discovered that the country houses a gamut of rich top and subsoils.     
However, if the country is being caught off guard today as far as the development and growth of the local industry is concerned, it is not because the efforts to promote local made products have been lacking. Rather, the problem can be laid at the door step of numerous slogans that have remained white paper tigers with little or no follow up at various levels. For instance, who will say coffee, cocoa, rice, banana, rubber, and sugar production as cash-crops in Cameroon is new. While sugar has a processing mill like in Bandjock thanks to foreign partnership, the other cash-crops have either witnessed a decline in production or suffered total neglect because farmers either grow too old to continue with the plantations or their produce simply lacked a profitable market. The difficulty in getting farm inputs due to high cost all point to the cruel absence of efforts to ensure the production chain.     
Yet, on a regular bases, events keep repeating themselves albeit slightly different, but with clear signs that the fundamental solutions to the challenges that the country faces are at home and not abroad.   In 2008, a global financial crisis rocked the world. They resulted from bad seeds planted during years of rock-bottom interest rates and loose lending standards that led to a housing price bubble in the United States of America. Countries across the world trembled, Cameroon inclusive. Two years later and taking advantage of the 50th anniversary of the independence and Unification of Cameroon which coincided with most African countries, President Paul Biya convened the Yaounde International Conference from 17-19 May 2010. One of its landmark declarations was that; “The ongoing African renaissance should be accompanied notably by the development of food crops. Africa should no longer import food to eat; it should, if necessary, temporarily protect its agriculture.” The African Union endorsed the position at its next General Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Such a position raised much hope in Cameroon and elsewhere that industrialisation could take a more aggressive form on the Continent thereby making provisions for farmers to earn better dividends from their produce thanks to an improvement in the value chain around their raw material.        
A decade after, the outcome is everyone`s guess. A global Coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2) identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China had to cripple movement across the world. Countries blocked their boarders for safety reasons and most nations had to depend on their own resources to survive. As the world gradually wakes up to the harsh health and economic realities of Covid-19, a war has erupted between Russia and Ukraine, leading to other hard economic choices. People now know that the wheat and flour they used in baking break mostly came from Ukraine. Combined with Covid-19 hardships, prices of every basic commodity are skyrocketing. The cost of building material is going up. And to wrap it all, money has remained the scarce commodity that it has always been. You can give it any economic term that you want! But people are getting conscious of the importance of consuming locally made goods even if such goods remain scare.    
It is now downing on everyone that local solutions to the daily challenges faced by citizens must be given priority. That does not only mean talking about made in Cameroon, but looking at the quantity and quality of what is produced in the country. In addition, it also means ensuring long-term production of whatever goods are processed in the country, combating problems of post-harvest losses and taking steps to meet local demands while being capable of conquering foreign markets. That could in a way be referring to the...

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