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Cameroon Targets Unlicensed Cocoa Buyers With Seizure of Beans

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Cameroon’s cocoa agencies have started a joint effort to eradicate unlicensed buyers and end purchases of low-quality beans sold by farmers who need money quickly, according to the Cocoa and Coffee Interprofessional Council.

The council and the Cocoa and Coffee Board started the program Jan. 20 to find the buyers and seize the beans they’ve purchased, Yves Abissi, head of communications for the council, said in an e-mailed response to questions today from the port city of Douala. Officials are monitoring parts of the Center, South and South West regions where the chocolate ingredient is grown, he said.

Cameroon, Africa’s fourth-biggest producer of the crop, requires cocoa buyers to get a license from the council before making purchases, proving they have financial means and storage and transportation facilities. There are 92 buyers with permits and more than 250 without, said Abissi.

Unlicensed buyers purchase cocoa that “is not well dried,” said Benjamin Ndongo Ndjemba, head of the board in the Center, East and South regions, in an interview. “As the number of illegal buyers keeps increasing, it becomes difficult to get credible statistics on cocoa production in Cameroon.” So far, 120 kilograms (264 pounds) of beans have been seized, he said.

Cocoa farmers who need money will try to sell the beans before they are properly dried, said Sama Aloysius, an unauthorized buyer, in a phone interview. “When the farmer is in dire need of money to buy his kerosene, rice or cooking oil, he looks for us, sometimes with cocoa as small as five kilograms,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pius Lukong in Yaounde via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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