August 12, 2017 / 10:49 AM / 12 days ago

Cameroon halves cocoa export levy amid price slump

A man spreads cocoa seeds to dry them off at La Calera farm in Granada, Nicaragua July 21, 2016.Oswaldo Rivas

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon has halved its levy on cocoa exports to boost revenues for farmers and exporters hit by a dive in global prices over the past year, the trade minister told Reuters.

Bumper crops around the world have sent prices lower this season and in some parts of Cameroon the price that farmers receive has halved. A prolonged dry season has also impacted the quality of some beans, farmers have said.

"The government has decided to reduce the cocoa export charge rate by 50 percent, from 150 CFA francs ($0.27) to 75 CFA francs per kilogram, as from August 1 2017," said Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana in an interview on Friday.

The dip represents a change in government policy after it sharply increased export charges during the 2014/15 season to raise revenue for the industry and increase production long term. In some instances, the policy dented farmer prices due to higher output.

"We told the exporters that we reduced the royalties on the condition that they increase the cocoa farm gate price...and we will ensure it," said Mbarga Atangana.

The farm gate price is the price that exporters or middle men pay farmers for the cocoa.

Roland Besong Arrey, sustainability director at Telcar Cocoa Ltd, one of the biggest exporters, told Reuters it is "ready to increase the farm gate price, even as prices vary depending on the world market."

($1 = 557.7900 CFA francs)

Editing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Stephen Powell

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