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Indigenous farming practices and its implications on cocoa production in Dikome Balue

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Over the years, cocoa production in Dikome Balue has served as a source of employment for many smallholder farmers. However, aging trees amongst other factors is a limiting factor in the productivity of cocoa. The study compared the economic performances of different crop ages of smallholder cocoa production using primary data obtained by means of semi-structured questionnaires. Multi-stage random sampling was adopted to select 80 farmers. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and budgetary analysis approaches. The results revealed that cocoa production is male-dominated (89.2%) with limited land ownership (37.5%) and access to extension service (8.3%). It was established that cocoa production was profitable with pooled Net Farm Income (NFI) of 79 485 FCFA/ha and a Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) of 1.41. Comparing profitability of three different crop-age ranges: < 10, 10 – 30 and > 30, the crop aged group 10 – 30 years outperformed the others on all profitability ratios. The study concludes that local farming practices of cocoa production in Dikome Balue accompanied with the problems of poor farm management, pest and diseases, small farm sizes, old cocoa trace and others have led to a decrease in cocoa production. Thus, it is recommended that for the sustainability of the cocoa sector, farmers should start considering the rehabilitation of their farms only after 30 years.



1.1 Introduction

This chapter seeks to address the research background, statement of problem, research question, research hypothesis, scope and justification, significance of the study and the study area.

1.2. Research Background.

The cocoa beans (technically cocoa seed) or simply cocoa is the dry and fully fermented seed of theobroma cacao, from which cocoa solid (a mixture of nonfat substance) and cocoa butter (the fat) can be extracted. Cocoa can only grow within about 20° north and south of the equator. In fact cocoa tree grow exclusively in areas that meet certain specific condition, including fairly uniform temperature, high humidity, abondant rainfall, nitrogen rich soil and protection from wind. In short, cocoa tree grow in the rain forest. About 90% of the world coca is harvested on small family -runs farms with more than two or four hectares of land and an average yield of 600 – 800kg per year. The botanic name for cocoa tree is Theobroma Cacao.

The cocoa plant is a native to the Amazon and tropical regions of south America (Brazil, Ecuador), Central America (Guatemala, Nicaragua) and some Asian countries like Malaysia and Indonesia (Indonesia been the highest producer in Asia) where Cocoa is relatively a new crop and are becoming increasingly important growing areas.

In Africa, Cocoa is mostly produce in West African countries of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, which are by far the largest cocoa growing countries accounting for about 60% of the global cocoa production and also Nigeria and Cameroon. In all, about 70% of the global cocoa is produce in Africa.

The economy of Cameroon experience a recession from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s. As a result of this recession many civil servants found solace in cash crop production, particularly cocoa since it give or gives room for farmers to plant food crops for subsistence and cocoa for income on the same piece of land (mixed farming). From 2003 – 2007, the cocoa sector contribute to Cameroon Gross National product (GNP) move from 0.89% to 1.45%. This account for between 5 to 9.65%. Of annual total export revenue. Cocoa in Cameroon is grown either through extensive or intensive production system. Cocoa production remain one of the main cash crop in Cameroon with over 400000 to 600000 families in the country are involved in cocoa growing and about 95% of this farmers are smallholders with an average farm sizes of about 2.5 5 hectares who depends on the activity for their income or livelihood (Hutz – Adams et Al 2016). Income realized depends on the price, quality and quantity produced

This quantity and quality of cocoa produced is governed to a very large extend by the effecs of the indigenous farming practices.

Cocoa is a significant contributor to the economy, it was ranked second amongst Cameroon’s export commodities in 2016 with a total contribution of about 524 million dollars to the economy and accounted for 14.8% of the total exports after crude petroleum for 29.8% (OEC) Undated). Despite the importance of cocoa sector in the economy, the sector is still plaque by low productivity, low cocoa beans quality and low prices. Cameroon cocoa sold both in the international market and domestic markets, with the prices determined in the world market. About 90% of cocoa is exported and remainder processed locally (CTA, 2010).

According to ITC (2001), Cameroon cocoa is strictly different from other West Africa Cocoa in that, it has a dark colour, more reddish brown and a more urgent flavour. It tends to be preferred by the European cocoa processing industry for it higher than average cocoa butter content. However, in December 2012, the European Union (EU) rejected a shipment of 2000MT of Cameroon cocoa contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and in December 2013, another MT was rejected. Low beans quality has pushed down prices with Cameroon beans typically trading with a discount of 400 FCFA/kg on the international market. (Ecobank, 2014). In addition to declining world prices, market prices are volatile, which further depress farmer’s profitability and income (Oomes et Al 2016; CTA 2010; Data 2007).

Cocoa thrives well in the south, centre and south west region of Cameroon. In fact, cocoa is cultivated in 7 out of the 10 regions of Cameroon that is West, East, Lithoral, Southwest and the Northwest. In the south west region of Cameroon, cocoa is cultivated in the 6 divisions that is the Fako, koupe- Maneguba, Meme, Manyu, Lebialem, and Indian Division. Dikome Balue a sub division found in Indian Division in the south west region of Cameroon is one of the cocoa producing areas. It’s almost impossible to talk about the socio-economic life of the inhabitants of Dikome Balue without making allusions to cocoa farming. This cash crop which tolerates the growing of their major staple food crops such as plantains, cocyams, yams, banana, cassava and others constitute the main stay of the population of Dikome Balue. The important role of cocoa production in Dikome Balue could be clearly identified during the period of harvest which begins from July and end in December. It is at this time that most businesses and economic operators takes advantage to make money from cocoa farmers. A local farmer concludes with the following words “Cocoa season is a season of cash”. However, farmers in complain that their yield per hectare have been reducing over the years and their discussions to a great extend revolve around a number of some local farming practices.

Management is one of the most important factor in the success of any farm operation. Profit maximization is traditionally assumed to be the overriding goal in most management decision (Sah 2003). However, profit would be affected by the productivity of input, the cost of inputs, and the prices of the outputs. Prediction cost differ from farm to farm depending on the number of factors. Farms also have different patterns of labour use, different equipment cost and different aeration strategies (Eagle 2012, Wood and Isaac 2000). This changes makes a significant impact on the farm structures and it does require the farm accurate information about their operations, products, costumers and markets in other to be competitive (Gunarathne and Samudrage 2028).

Based in Blank (2018) and Demsetz (1973), superior firms hypothesis, differences in productivity level is the major factor behind profit heterogeneity. This was confirmed by Stierword (2010) who found out that more productive firms are more profitable. He further explained that high earnings in the the past provide an opportunity to end high profits in future. Therefore, an increase in profitability is important in the competitiveness and possibilities of survival of the firm. As such, it is, necessary to perform profit and profitability analysis regardless of whether the firm is profitable or not. This according to Tamulevi?ien? (2026), is because a constant and detailed analysis of productivity is an important source of it increase. This productivity in Dikome Balue is very low.

In addition, many studies (Muhardi, et Al 2020; Ngoe et Al; 2018; Imgram and Tothmihaly; 2018) have reported that ageing trees is one of the reasons for low productivity of cocoa in Dikome Balue. According to Nalley et Al (2018), cocoa can be productive up to 50 years though it productivity peak is earlier. However, the satisfactory yields are short – termed and collapse after 25 to 30 years (Jagoret et Al 2017).

Based on differences in productivity of farms age, the resources used and consequently the productivity of the farm may also differ. Prior researches that have worked on cocoa profitability in Dikome and Cameroon in general have concentrated on the technical efficiency (Nicodeme and Sugum, 2017; Gama et Al; 2015, Binam et Al; 2008) or on productivity of production systems (File and Nkwain 2016; Fole Fack et Al 2015).

1.3. Statement Problem.

The poor farming practices carried out in Dikome Balue in the cultivation of cocoa is one of the major problem faced by the Dikome Balue farmers. Since with no formal education but only elementary education with no knowledge of modern farming techniques, they are bound to carry out their local practices which have greatly reduced the output of cocoa production in the area. Majority of the farmers are based on estimation and when they think they can carry out the activity. Pruning which is the removal of old and dead branches is supposed to be done twice in a year in each cocoa farm, but this is done once and in the mid or heart of the dry season. This exposes the crop to direct sun light which make the cocoa plant to struggle for survival, limiting it productivity. Some people do their pruning when the crop have sprout out its flowers which during cutting, the flowers fall off and most of the branches trimmed too carries a lot of flowers which would have increased its output if maintained and nutured. Trees are also put down for firewood during the drying of the cocoa beans which are never replaced.

Further, ageing farms in Dikome Balue. The locat farmers in Dikome Balue today are not the sole owners but inheritance from their fathers and grandfathers 55 to 60 years ago and have been maintained till date (same farm sizes, same cocoa trees). Cocoa tree is highly productive at its early age that is from 5-25 years but above 25 years as with the farms in Dikome are considered old and cannot be productive as before.

This problems seeing above are the main hindrance of cocoa output though no finance and infrastructure, prevalence of certain environmental conditions and a lesser extent climate change and the current crisis post a problem in the production of cocoa in the Dikome Balue area.

1.4. Research Questions

1.4.1. Main Research Question.

– How have indigenous farming practices affect Cocoa production in Dikome Balue?

1.4.2. Specific Research Question

– What has been the trend of cocoa production in Dikome Balue over time?

– What are some of the indigenous farming practices?

– What are the challenges faced by cocoa sector in Dikome Balue?

– What can be done to curb the situation?

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