CAMEROON – Cameroon is set to provide financial support to plantain producers through a new partnership between the Cameroonian Association of Banana-Plantain Actors and La Régionale Bank.

This agreement, signed in early May, aims to enhance the agricultural sector by offering loans ranging from 10 to 250 million CFA francs (USD 16,000 to USD 409,000) at preferential rates.

The loans, which range from 10 to 250 million CFA francs, come with favorable terms, including repayment periods of 1 to 8 years and a grace period aligned with agricultural cycles.

The Cameroonian government will guarantee 50% of each loan, while Royal Onyx insurance company will provide additional coverage, as reported by Invest in Cameroon. This initiative seeks to expand La Régionale Bank’s agricultural loan portfolio, offering significant opportunities for growth in this sector.

La Régionale Bank is committed to supporting up to 500 farmers annually through this financing. To this end, it opened a specialized branch in Yaoundé on March 14, dedicated to agricultural project funding, with plans for further expansion. However, access to these loans requires producers to meet specific criteria.

Producers must undergo practical training in agribusiness at the Kribi International Reference Incubation Center in Mbébé. Upon completing this program, they will receive a bankable business plan.

This plan is then submitted to the Regional Financing Window by the Cameroonian Association of Banana-Plantain Actors (FBPC) for funding approval and follow-up.

Costs for this training vary based on the loan amount. For loans between 10 and 50 million CFA francs, the training costs 2.5 million CFA francs.

For loans over 50 million up to 250 million CFA francs, the cost is 7.5 million CFA francs, payable in two installments. These costs can represent up to 25% of the loan for the first level and 15% for the second, which might pose a challenge for repayment.

Despite the high costs, Samuel Tony Obam Bikoué, president of the FBPC, believes this partnership will significantly advance the goals of financing and industrial production of plantains.

The association aims to make plantains Cameroon’s top export product by 2035. They plan to export to African markets such as Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya, as well as to international destinations including Turkey, the United States, and China. These efforts align with Cameroon’s broader agricultural development goals.

Currently, Cameroon produces about 5.5 million tons of plantains, according to the National Agricultural Investment Plan and the Rural Sector Development Strategy for 2020-2030.

The goal is to increase production to 7.5 million tons by 2025 and 10 million tons by 2030. Yields are also expected to rise to 14 tons per hectare by 2025 and 16 tons per hectare by 2030.

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