YAOUNDE - Anne Nzouankeu contributed to this report.
Cameroon was once the 12th largest coffee producer in the world, but it is now in 31st place, after production sank from 156,000 tons in 1990 to barely 25,000 today. While exports still dominate, Cameroon is looking to domestic coffee consumption to help boost production.
One of the ways the government is promoting Cameroon coffee is through the annual coffee festival in Yaoundé.
WATCH: Cameroon Organizes Coffee Festival to Boost Consumption
Cameroon’s coffee drinkers sample locally made Robusta and Arabica coffees at a tasting village set up in the capital. Among the visitors is 34-year-old Cyrille Yaouba.
He says tasting the coffee today can make him to want to drink more in the future and that he thinks the coffee is very good.
Cameroon trade minister Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana says the annual coffee event, Festicoffee, aims to encourage Cameroon’s 24 million people to drink more of the bean to help boost production.
An increase in coffee consumption, he says, will make Cameroon produce more. Cameroon can produce more, he says, if it can persuade the large domestic market to buy coffee and be prepared to satisfy them.
Industry insiders such as Pierre Andre Jr. of the Torrecam coffee factory blame a severe drop in coffee prices for discouraging coffee farming.
Cameroonians have to look for local solutions to their problems, he says. Local consumption of coffee should be part of their habits, and he does not know why people have the tendency to behave as if they are afraid of the coffee their country produces.
Junior says that Cameroon, which is still Africa’s seventh largest coffee producer, is also looking outside the main export markets in Europe to regional ones.
The industry will be targeting neighboring markets in Nigeria, Gabon, Congo and Chad, he said. The markets are promising and can purchase about 90% of Cameroon’s coffee, Junior says, adding that the Cameroon market for now is consuming just 10% of what they produce.
Cameroon authorities hope to grow the market by encouraging the 300,000 government workers to drink more coffee.
The theme of this year’s coffee festival: “Let’s Act in Favor of Cameroon Coffee.”