Yagoua Rice Expansion and Modernization Company (SEMRY) and the Upper Nun Valley Development Authority (UNVDA), key players in Cameroon's rice sector, are set to receive a significant boost in 2024 through government subsidies. Announcing this during the recent budget session, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (Minader) Gabriel Mbaïrobe revealed plans to allocate XAF500 million in investment subsidies to each company.
According to the government official, additional resources will also support the rice sector through externally financed projects. These include The Agricultural Production Support Programme in Cameroon (PARPAC), which will receive XAF3 billion in external funding, including XAF400 million in counterpart funding from the government. This initiative, supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will benefit rice projects in the Far North, North, North-West, and West regions. There is also the Irrigated and Rainfed Rice Development Project (PRODERIP), which will benefit from undisclosed funding from the Japanese government with an XAF150 million counterparty funding from the Cameroonian government.
Minader Mbaïrobe also mentioned a new rice value chain project funded by the Islamic Development Bank in the North-West, West, and Far-North regions. However, he did not disclose the details concerning the funding of the project.
According to the National Institute of Statistics, in 2019, Cameroon produced only 217,280 tons of rice against an annual demand of 757,000 tons. This import dependence led to the country importing 652,000 tons of rice in 2022, incurring a cost exceeding XAF162 billion.
In a bid to reduce dependence on imported rice, earlier this year, the government adopted a rice sector development strategy. This plan aims to increase local rice production to 750,000 tons by 2030, achieving a self-sufficiency rate of 97%. The strategy requires a significant investment of over XAF385 billion, with XAF298 billion allocated to developing irrigated perimeters and XAF87 billion dedicated to other essential resources and services.