YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon plans to use genetically modified seedlings developed in Brazil in an effort to more than double its cocoa production by 2015, the central African nation’s cocoa development body SODECAO said on Monday.
The world’s fifth-largest supplier of the main ingredient in chocolate officially produced just under 200,000 tonnes during the 2009-10 season which ended in July, down from 205,000 tonnes in the previous season.
“I foresee a very bright future for the cocoa sub-sector in Cameroon given people’s renewed interest, increasing support from the government and high prices on the world market,” SODECAO General Manager Jerome Mvondo told a press conference.
“And with Biofabrica, l believe we can raise production to about 400,000-500,000 tonnes by 2015.”
Cameroon will cultivate 20 million disease-resistant, high-yield “Biofabrica” seedlings during the 2010-11 season as part of a $10 million project with the Brazilian state, which developed the variety in the 1990s to combat an outbreak of a fungal disease called Witch’s Broom that had halved the crop.
An official with Brazil’s executive commission for cocoa, Ceplac, told Cameroon state radio over the weekend the variety takes two to three years to start producing, yields 1-2 tonnes per hectare, and is disease resistant.
Yields in Cameroon currently average 200-300 kg per hectare.
Cameroon is also increasing its use of locally-developed genetically modified cocoa strands, Mvondo said.
The world’s No. 1 and No. 2 producers, Ivory Coast and Ghana, have also said they are hoping to raise cocoa production in the coming years.
The West Coast of Africa accounts for about two-thirds of world cocoa production, and disappointing output last year helped drive world cocoa prices to 30-year highs.