Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Tables
 List of Figures
 Country setting
 Problem identification
 Objectives of the study
 Data base
 The agricultural economy
 The study area
 Conceptual and operational...
 Empirical results: Market structure...
 Empirical results: Market...
 Market problem identification and...
 Tables A1 to A20

Group Title: CTA report - Center for Tropical Agriculture, University of Florida - 1
Title: Economics of food crop marketing in Central Cameroon
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00053858/00001
 Material Information
Title: Economics of food crop marketing in Central Cameroon
Series Title: CTA report
Physical Description: vii, 229 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Ongla, Jean, 1947-
Davis, C. G ( Carlton George ), 1936-
Publisher: Center for Tropical Agriculture, International Programs, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: [1979]
Subject: Food crops -- Economic aspects -- Cameroon   ( lcsh )
Produce trade -- Cameroon   ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Economic aspects -- Cameroon   ( lcsh )
Farm produce -- Marketing -- Cameroon   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 225-229).
Statement of Responsibility: by J. Ongla and C.G. Davis.
General Note: "October 1979."
General Note: "In cooperation with Food and Resource Economics Department, Center for African Studies, University of Florida and Department of Rural Economics, National Advanced School of Agriculture, University of Yaounde."
Funding: Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00053858
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001958545
oclc - 36801302
notis - AKD5165

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Table of Contents
        Page i
    List of Tables
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    List of Figures
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
    Country setting
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Problem identification
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
    Objectives of the study
        Page 17
    Data base
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
    The agricultural economy
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    The study area
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
    Conceptual and operational framework
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
    Empirical results: Market structure and conduct
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
    Empirical results: Market performance
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
    Market problem identification and proposals for reform
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
    Tables A1 to A20
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
Full Text




J. Ongla and C. G. Davis

CTA Report 1

October 1979

Center for Tropical Agriculture
International Programs
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611

in cooperation with

Food and Resource Economics Department
Center for African Studies
University of Florida


Department of Rural Economics
National Advanced School of Agriculture
University of Yaounde

















APPENDIX A: Tables Al to A20. . .



. ii

. vii

. . 17

. . 17

. 31

. . 64


. 132


. . 198

. . 204

. . 225


Table Page

1 Population estimates and distribution by province,
1975 . . . . . . 5

2 Retail price paid by consumers (medium income families)
for selected staple food products in Yaound6 markets,
February (1969-1975) . . . . 9

3 Comparison of food product prices in Yaounde and farm
markets of Ngomo and Etaka, L&ki6 Division, February,
1972 . . . . ... . 10

4 Gross Domestic Product by sectors, Cameroon, selected
years, in current prices. . . . ... 22

5 Structure and volume of Cameroon's major export products,
1970/71 and 1974/75 . .. . . 23

6 Subsectorial distribution of the Gross Domestic Product,
the agricultural sector, Cameroon, 1961/62 and
1971/72 . . . . ... .. .. .25

7 Production of selected food crops, Cameroon, 1971/72
to 1974/75. . . .. . . 27

8 Percentage regional distribution of food crops,
Cameroon, 1963/64 and 1974/75 .... . ... 29

9 Distribution of major export crops, by provinces,
Cameroon, 1976. . . .... ... .. 30

10 Population distribution and density, rural and urban,
Center South Province, 1973/74. . . ... 35

11 Structure of the rural population by age and sex,
Center South Province, 1972/73. . . ... 36

12 Structure of the economically active rural population,
Center South Province, 1973/74. ..... . .. 38

13 Sector contribution to Gross Domestic Product,
Center South Province, 1972/73, current prices. .. 39

Table Page

14 Common crop varieties produced in the Center South
Province . ... . . . 42

15 Designated supply areas and relative distances from
Yaounde and area headquarters. . . ... 47

16 Production estimates, selected food crops, supply
areas, 1972/73 . . . .... . 49

17 Selected farm population characteristics, supply areas
and Center South Province, 1972/73 . .... . 52

18 Time requirement for selected seasonal production
activities, Center South Province. . . ... 58

19 Average number of meals prepared per day, selected
locations. . . . . ... 59

20 Estimated daily food intake per person, selected food
groups, cocoa zone, Center South Province, 1975. 60

21 Estimated population, Yaound6, selected periods 1965-
1976 and projections for 1980 and 1985 . ... 62

22 Projections of demands for selected foodstuffs in Yaounde
to 1980/81 and 1985/86 and comparisons to 1972/73 and
1975/76. . . . . ... ..... 63

23 Arrival characteristics of sellers of foodstuffs from
producing areas between the Mokolo and Central markets
and other Yaounde markets. . . . ... 92

24 Demographic characteristics of food retailers and
wholesalers Yaounde markets, 1977. . . ... 98

25 Ownership and labor characteristics of wholesalers and
retailers, Yaound6 markets, 1977 . . .. 100

26 Percentage of wholesalers and retailers carrying selected
commodities, Yaounde markets, 1977 .... .... 101

27 Average weight of all commodities transported by
middlemen, and weight of major product handled as a
percentage of total load, 1976 . . .... 102

28 Number and proportion of middlemen transporting specific
quantities of selected foodstuffs to Yaound6 markets,
1976 . . . . . . 103

29 Supply sources of wholesalers and retailers, selected
commodities, Yaounde markets, 1975 . . 107

Table Page

30 Characteristics of place of purchase by wholesalers and
retailers, selected commodities, Yaound6 markets, 1977 109

31 Suppliers used by wholesalers and retailers, selected
commodities, Yaound6 markets, 1977 . ... ... 110

32 Transportation characteristics of selected commodities,
Yaound6 markets, 1977. ... . . .. 112

33 Ownership characteristics of trucks transporting
selected commodities, Yaound6 markets, 1977. . ... 113

34 Marketing operations financing, credit use and credit-
related practices, wholesalers and retailers, Yaound6
markets, 1977. . . . ..... .... .116

35 Communication, association and price determination
characteristics of food retailers and wholesalers,
Yaound4 markets, 1977. . . . ... 119

36 Distribution of the population by age and school
attendance, selected divisions of the Center South
Province and Cameroon, 1972-73 . . .... 122

37 Farms use of pesticides and fertilizers, selected
divisions of the Center South Province, 1972-73. ... 124

38 Use of selected farm equipment, selected divisions,
Center South Province, 1977. . . .. 125

39 Selected characteristics of farms in supply areas,
Center South Province, 1977. .......... .. 126

40 Transportation characteristics of selected commodities,
selected supply study villages, Center South Province,
1977 . . . . . . 128

41 Farmers perception of transportation difficulties,
selected study villages, Center South Province, 1977 .130

42 Average annual prices of selected commodities, Yaounde
markets, as percent of Yaound6 average prices, January
to December 1975 ... . . . . 135

43 Relative price variation in selected Yaound6 markets,
January-December, 1975. ........ ... 137

44 Average unit retail prices of selected commodities,
selected rural areas, and percent of average Yaound6
retail price, 1976 . . . . .. 139

Table Page

45 Average purchase price of selected commodities at the
wholesale, retail and consumer levels, and producer
price as percent of each, Yaounde and adjacent areas,
1976 . . . . ... ... 142

46 Marketing margins and distribution of consumer payments,
by cost items, selected commodities, Yaounde markets,
1976 ... . .... . . ... 146

47 Seasonal price indices and ranges, selected commodities,
Yaound6 markets, January 1968 to August 1976 ... 150

48 Results of estimating equations for seasonal adjustment
of price changes, selected commodities . ... 155

49 Results of adjusted estimating equations for seasonal
adjustment of price changes, selected commodities. 158

50 Final results of estimating equations adjusted for
autocorrelation, selected commodities. . .. 160

51 Estimated seasonally-adjusted January prices for
cocoyams, cassava, plantains, and groundnuts, Yaounde
markets, selected years, 1969-1976 . .... 162

52 Frequency and percentage distribution of correlation
coefficients between Yaound6 market prices for selected
commodities, January 1975-December 1975. . .. 165

53 Frequency and percentage distribution of correlation
coefficients between Yaound6 market prices for cocoyams,
cassava (flour), cassava (tubers), plantain, and maize
(grains), January 1975-December 1975 . ... 166

54 Number and percentage of correlation coefficients
significant at the 5 and 1 percent significance levels,
selected commodities, Yaounde markets, 1975. . 168

Al The Yaounde market survey of food prices: samples of
plantain, cassava (tubers), and cocoyam retailers,
January-December, 1975 . . . . 205

A2 The Yaound6 market survey of food prices: samples of
cassava (flour), maize (grains), and tomato retailers,
January-December, 1975 ........ . ... 206

A3 The Yaounde market survey of food prices: sample of
groundnut retailers, January-December, 1975. ... 207

Table Page

A4 The Yaounde market survey of food prices: sample of
bean retailers, January-December, 1975. . . 208

A5 The Yaound4 market survey of food prices: sample of
onion retailers, January-December, 1975. .. ... . 209

A6 The Yaounde market survey of food prices: sample of
rice retailers, January-December, 1975 . ... 210

A7 The Yaounde market survey of food prices: sample of
yam retailers, January-December, 1975. . ... 211

A8 Street retailer sample survey, 1977 . ... 212

A9 Market retailer and wholesaler sample survey, 1977 213

A10 Producer sample survey, 1977 . ... . .. 214

All Correlation matrix for monthly retail prices of
onions, Yaound6 markets, January-December, 1975. ... 215

A12 Correlation matrix for monthly retail prices of
rice, Yaounde markets, January-December, 1975. ... .216

A13 Correlation matrix for monthly retail prices of
beans, Yaound6 markets, January-December, 1975 ..... 217

A14 Correlation matrix for monthly retail prices of
groundnuts, Yaound4 markets, January-December, 1975. 218

A15 Correlation matrix for monthly retail prices of
tomatoes, Yaounde markets, January-December, 1975. 219

A16 Correlation matrix for monthly retail prices of
cocoyams, Yaound6 markets, January-December, 1975. 220

A17 Correlation matrix for monthly retail prices of
cassava (tubers), Yaounde markets, January-December,
1975 . . . . . . 221

A18 Correlation matrix for monthly retail prices of
cassava (flour), Yaounde markets, January-December,
1975 . . . . . . 222

A19 Correlation matrix for monthly retail prices of
plantain, Yaounde markets, January-December, 1975. 223

A20 Correlation matrix for monthly retail prices of
maize (grains), Yaound6 markets, January-December,
1975 . . . . . . 224



1 Location of the United Republic of Cameroon .

2 The Center South Province: Divisons and major
towns, 1973 . . . . .

3 Transportation network around Yaound . .

4 Farm areas where food producers were interviewed.

5 Foodstuffs distribution system in Yaound6 and
adjacent areas . . . .

6 Map of Yaound6 showing urban central markets and
selected neighborhood and street retail markets

7 Harvest periods for selected foodstuffs in food
crop producing areas around Yaound . .


. 3

. 33

. 44

. 45

. 88

. 93

. 152


This report is based in part upon Dr. Ongla's Ph.D. dissertation.

The authors wish to express a special debt of gratitude to the Ford

Foundation for providing the financial support which permitted

Dr. Ongla to complete the course work.requirement for his dissertation

at the University of Florida, as well as support for the field research

phase of his program. Appreciation is also extended for the financial

support provided by the Foundation which permitted Dr. Davis to spend

the summer of 1977 in Cameroon. Appreciation is extended to the

Director, National Advanced School of-Agriculture, and the Chancellor,

University of Yaounde for granting leave of absence to Dr. Ongla for

him to pursue advanced studies in the United States.

The technical assistance of Drs. W. W. McPherson, C. 0. Andrew,

L. H. Myers, E. H. Gilbert and J. K. Dow is gratefully acknowledged.

Appreciation is also extended to Michel Giazet, Fridolin Kobla and

Armand Omgbwa for their excellent performance as interviewers. The

authors, however, are solely responsible for any errors or deficiencies

in the report.


The objectives of this study are: (a) to characterize and evaluate

the structure and forces affecting the'conduct of the food crops marketing

system in central Cameroon, (b) to evaluate the performance of the food

crop marketing system to see how well the system serves the community

and the development process, and (c) to identify and recommend policy

measures for improving the marketing system. The standard conceptual

model of market structure theory is used. The three basic components of

market structure theory, (i.e., structure, conduct, and performance),

are then operationalized in a series of empirical models to meet the

objectives of the study.

Market structure and conduct analysis reveal that the traditional

component of the marketing system plays a dominant role in food marketing,

with wholesalers and retailers forming the major link between producers

and consumers. Significant demographic and structural differences

were found in marketing practices among wholesalers, market retailers

and street retailers. Producer-agents were found to be a relatively

homogenous group with respect to structure and conduct characteristics.

The general problem was one of small firms, lack of coordination,

and transportation bottlenecks. Market performance analysis reveals

significant price variations between markets. Transportation was

found to be the major component of the marketing margin. Analysis of

seasonal price variations indicate that high prices usually coincide

with pre-harvest periods. Finally, the analysis of price integration

among markets in Yaounde reveals that some commodities' markets are

well-integrated while others are not.

A number of marketing problems are identified and a series of

marketing reforms proposed. These proposals are aimed at improving

productivity in farm areas and creating conditions for sustaining

that productivity, while, at the same time, permitting a smooth flow

of foodstuffs between food surplus rural areas and deficit urban


Key words: Cameroon, Center South Province, food crop subsector,

food crop marketing, marketing margin, Yaounde area, price variation,,

market integration, middlemen.


J. Ongla and C. G. Davis


Physical and Demographic Characteristics

The 1960s saw an accelerated rate of decolonization in Third

World countries. The net result of this phenomenon was a rapid

increase in the number of politically independent states in Africa

and elsewhere. Cameroon became independent on January 1, 1960, and was

followed in the same year by more than a dozen sub-Sahara African

countries. As in the case of most of the newly independent states,

the Republic of Cameroon was quickly confronted with widespread demand

by its citizens for accelerated growth and development and an improved

level of living. These demands have presented major developmental

problems for the country, in light of certain political and economic


Few African countries share the Cameroonian colonial experience.

None has lived under three separate colonial regimes. Cameroon was

part of the West African Slave Coast before becoming a German protec-

torate in 1884. Following the defeat of Germany in World War I, this

former German protectorate became a victory prize. It was unevenly

.J. ONGLA is assistant professor and Head, Department of Rural Economics,
National Advanced School of Agriculture, University of Yaound6, Cameroon.
C. G. DAVIS is associate professor in the Food and Resource Economics
Department, University of Florida.


divided into two territories and:allocated to France and Great Britain

in 1919. The British took over one-fifth of the territory's total

area, corresponding to the western area bordering Nigeria and the

French took possession of the remainder [24, 25].

The two territories existed separately until the early 1960s.

In 1960, the French administered territory became independent and

requested reunification with the British held territory. Following

a plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations in

February 1961 the former French Cameroon and the Southern portion of

the former British Cameroon were united to form the Federal Republic

of Cameroon as of October 1, 1961, i.e., the day the former British

Cameroon obtained its independence. The same plebiscite resulted in

the unification of the former British Northern Cameroon with Nigeria.

Since 1961, Cameroon has moved through a series of Federal structures

to become the United Republic of Cameroon on May 20, 1972.

Cameroon is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Nigeria to the

West, Chad and the Central African Empire to the North and East, and

Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea to the South (Fig. 1). Geograph-

ically, Cameroon extends 1,300 kilometers between latitudes 20 and 13"

North and 800 kilometers between longitudes 90 and 160 East. The

geographical characteristics of the country have given rise to markedly

different climatic conditions between the northern and southern regions,

and between the Littoral regions and the mountainous areas of the

country. Geographical variability among regions is reflected in

different agroecological zones,ranging from the wild forests of the

South to the savannahs and steppes of the North.



Figure 1. Location of the United Republic of Cameroon


Like most less developed countries, Cameroon has a rapidly in-

creasing population. Between 1963 and 1970, its population grew at

an estimated rate of 2.1 percent per annum, moving from 5 million in

1963 to 5.8 million in 1970. Population estimates of the Department

of Statistics and National Accounts put the current rate of population

growth at 2.3 percent per annum. The population was estimated at

7 million in 1976 and is projected to be around 8 million by 1980

[32, 33].

In 1975, 48 percent of the population was male and 52 percent

female. Children of school age (between 6 and 14) represented 21

percent of the total population (approximately 1,500,000). Over the

1974/75 period, primary school enrollment was estimated at 1,075,000,

but only 72 percent of the school age children were attending school

[33]. Abalu's [1] 1970 population distribution figures according to

sex and age, were almost identical to the 1975 distribution figures.

Between 1970 and 1975, the population density increased from 12.5

persons per square kilometer to 14.7 inhabitants per square kilometer

[33]. The West Province, made up of Bamileke and Bamoun, had the

highest density in 1975, 79 inhabitants per square kilometer (71.9

in 1971), followed only by the North West and Littoral Provinces with

respective population densities of 45 and 43 persons per square

kilometer (Table 1). The population living in Cameroonian cities and

towns has been growing very rapidly in recent years. From 1970 to

1973, the number of people living in urban areas increased at a rate

of 7.5 percent per annum. In 1975 it was estimated that 32 percent

of the total population was living in the major cities. The rapid

urbanization of the country's population naturally reflects a relative

decline in the proportion of the rural population [32, 33].


The observed increases in urban population and the associated

decline in rural population are a result of in-country population

Table l.--Population estimates and distribution by province,
Cameroon, 1975

Provinces Population Area Density

Number '000 km2 Persons/km2

Center South 1,354,000 111,175 11.7

Littoral 903,000 21,100 42.8

West 1,083,000 13,700 79.0

East 313,200 109,000 2.9

North 1,596,000 162,000 9.9

North West 809,000 17,910 45.2

South West 550,000 27,520 20.0

Source: [33].

movements. Nationwide, there are strong migration trends of rural

people to urban centers and to regions where industrial or agro-

industrial complexes are being established or are already established.

These trends reflect, to a large extent, positive responses to existing

and/or potential employment opportunities in metropolitan growth centers.



One alternative path available to Cameroon for meeting its

development goals is to design and implement selected strategies and


policies to stimulate, accelerate, and expand the scope of the develop-

ment process. The agricultural sector has been identified as the

foundation of the economy and the primary source of growth. Thus,

within the context of national development strategy, high priority

has been given to the modernization and development of this sector.

The magnitude of the efforts in this direction is reflected in the

country's five year plans for social and economic development [33, 34].

These efforts, however, have been unevenly applied between the

agricultural export subsector and the domestic food crop subsector.

This unbalanced agricultural development strategy is all embracing

and covers the full spectrum of the country's institutional system;

from production to distribution. This skewness in resource invest-

ment is particularly true in the case of export crops. For example,

The Cocoa Price Stabilization Fund, an organization created during

the major cocoa crisis of 1964-65, has played a key role in reducing

fluctuation in earnings among cocoa farmers. This and other price

stabilization funds have not only offset the negative economic

effects of fluctuations in world prices of cocoa and other major

export crops, but have also played an important role in the development

of production and marketing institutions and other infrastructural sup-
port for these commodities.- On the other hand, the domestic food

-Since 1965-66, cocoa prices have steadily increased. Wherever cocoa
is produced in the country it has always been sold because of the
relatively efficient organization of the cocoa marketing system. Also,
most research efforts aimed at improving yield potential, insect and
disease resistance are now concentrated in export crops. Licensed
produce purchasers and cooperative organizations buy the produce from
farmers, and Stabilization Funds not only export the product but also
supply farmers with the necessary inputs.


production system has been virtually ignored. No facilitating measures

were initiated prior to 1974, other than the establishment of a Price

List in each Administrative Division.

In the early 1960s, with the exception of bad harvest years,

there were no major food shortages in urban areas of Cameroon. One

can only speculate that this might have been possibly related to

positive food supply responses of adjacent rural areas to the relatively

high demand and related price levels in these urban areas. Off farm

migration (which authorities tried unsuccessfully to stem) and the

development of the non-agricultural, urban-based sectors of the

economy, were major factors associated with the significant increase

in aggregate food demand levels in urban areas. These two factors

had positive effects on both the population and income of urban

areas and as such, generated upward shifts in aggregate urban food

demand.- However, because of a lack of public policy in the area of

stimulating food production and distribution, the increased aggregate

demand for food, particularly in urban areas, could not be met and

sustained in a satisfactory manner by adjacent and regional supplies.

There are no published data concerning the relationship between

food production and effective demand and between the volume and

direction of food movements among surplus regions and deficit regions.

Between 1971 and 1973, with the exception of rice, there was no signi-

2/Per capital national income increased from 25,000 CFA in 1960 to
52,000 CFA in 1974. To the extent that the bulk of the overall growth
in national income originated in the non-agricultural sector, the rate
of growth in urban per capital incomes was considerably higher than that
of rural per capital incomes, in spite of population gains in urban areas.

ficant reduction in aggregate food production in Cameroon.- However,

the only available price data [35], show that food prices increased

very sharply in the major consuming centers of Douala (400,000

inhabitants) and Yaounde (300,000 inhabitants). Ten percent of the

country's population is located in these two consuming centers.-

The data show the following increases in retail prices of the major

staple foodstuffs consumed by medium income families between the

first quarter of 1971 and the first quarter of 1972: cocoyams

(33.3 percent), yams (25.6 percent), beans (18.0 percent), and

palm oil (27.3 percent) [35]. Table 2 shows the price situation for

selected food crops in the city of Yaounde in February 1969 through


During the 1969-1972 period, rural foodstuff prices continued to

lag behind city prices. As stated earlier, there is no official

reporting of farm prices in Cameroon. However, Ongla's surveys [43]

in the Zone of Intervention of Yemessoa in 1971 and 1972 provided price

estimates, which, when compared to retail prices in Yaound6 in 1972,

show that farm prices for cassava, cocoyams and plantain in the

survey areas were 66.7, 55.6 and 37.5 percent, respectively, of the

Yaounde prices (Table.3).

Primarily as a result of the relatively large increases in the

-This fact is important, because the Northern portion of Cameroon is
part of the Sahelian region, and was also affected, though not as
severely as were other countries, by the great drought of 1971-1973.

The Price Reporting Board of Ministry of Planning and Economic
Affairs only collects price data for Yaound6, Douala and Victoria,
the three major urban centers of the country.


Table 2.--Retail price paid by consumers (medium income families)a/
for selected staple food products in Yaounde markets,
February (1969-1975)

Staple Foods 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975

---------------CFA Francs/kilogram-------------------

Maize 38 30 40 40 43 35 42
Plantain 15 17 27 20 27 28 30
Cocoyams 16 14 14 18 23 24 24
Cassava 10 9 14 15 17 19 23
Yams 26 33 36 52 45 46 54
Beans 59 70 89 91 93 114 159
Onions 125 120 140 100 150 160 112
Rice 57 55 80 60 96 100 143

The Price Reporting Board publishes two sets of price data, one
related to "European families" and mainly collected at places where
expatriates and high income Cameroonians do their shopping, and the
other related to "Medium income families" and which are collected
in public markets and other places where other Cameroonians do
their shopping.

Source: [35].

urban prices of basic foodstuffs beginning in 1972 (Table 2), the

Government moved swiftly to create an agency responsible for organizing

the production and marketing of foodstuffs--the Food Development

Authority (MIDEVIV). The primary function of this agency is to

guarantee regular supplies to the major towns. However, with the

exception of the 1974 Nsangou study [41], no research was identified

which specifically sought to determine the factors associated with the

sharp increases in food prices and/or the severity of urban food

shortages [44]. In spite of the insights provided by the Nsangou study,


important factors such as (a) the distance travelled by foodstuff

suppliers, (b) the location of major sources of supplies, and (c) the

relative importance of each factor are still unknown. Also, precise

information is still lacking on the nature of food crop production

activities, the product mix entering major consumption centers, price

differentials between markets, and the relationship between price and


The MIDEVIV, upon its creation in September 1973, selected

Yaound6 and adjacent area as the pilot zone for its operations prior

Table 3.--Comparison of food product prices in Yaounde and farm
markets of Ngomo and Etaka, Leki6 Division, February,

Average Percent of
Yaounde price

Commodities Yaound6 Ngomo and Etaka

---------CFA Francs/kg-------

Cassava 15.0 10.0 66.7

Cocoyam 18.0 10.0 55.6

Plantain 20.0 7.5 37.5

Source: [ 35 and 43 ].

to extending its activities to other parts of the country. Trucks

were then acquired and routed to surrounding areas for direct farm-

gate purchasing of foodstuffs. In addition, specific supportive

actions were implemented. Such actions included the creation of a

seed multiplication farm for plantain in Mbankomo near Yaounde and


a credit program in cooperation with the agricultural bank for the

production of vegetable crops in the target area.

A January 1975 radio broadcast indicated that Mbalmayo5/

councilmen, attending an economic outlook meeting of that Administrative

Division, had expressed dissatisfaction with the actions of the Food

Development Authority. The dissatisfaction was apparently related to

the fact that the price of cocoyam had risen by over 200 percent within

the period of a few months. Six months later, the National newspaper,

Cameroon Tribune [7], reported that large quantities of vegetables,

particularly lettuce and tomatoes, could not be sold by producers.

These particular farmers had obtained credit (with the help of the

MIDEVIV) to undertake vegetable production from the National Fund for

Rural Development (FONADER) established in 1974. However, with Yaounde

their primary market outlet saturated at the time, and lacking the

necessary storage facilities, they were forced to absorb significant


The preceding discussion illustrates some of the problems

confronting policy makers and development planners concerned with

the development of the food production and distribution system in

Cameroon. These problems must be solved if agriculture is to play

a leading and dynamic role in the overall development process. The

magnitude of the marketing development problem can be partially

assessed by posing a series of questions. First, can Government

actions and/or institutions be effective under conditions where very

little is known about the country's marketable surplus, i.e., its

-/See Figure 4 for location of Mbalmayo, 51 kilometers south of


volume, timing and origin, the marketing system, and effective demand?

Second, is it not possible that present public policy might result

in traditional marketing chains being severely disrupted, with

resulting food shortages in small surrounding towns and in farm areas

themselves? Third, would such unintentional system disruption not

serve as a trigger for large price increases in these areas?

In addition to the uncertainty of answers to the above questions,

an additional dimension of the problem relates to the extreme paucity

of market intelligence information. The lack of such information

makes it extremely difficult and risky for entrepreneurs to engage in

food production and marketing. How can entrepreneurs invest with

confidence in either the production or marketing of foodstuffs

without some knowledge of demand and supply conditions facing these

commodities and the performance expectations of the marketing system?

In recent years, the Government has frequently verbalized its

goal of attaining national self-sufficiency in food production. This

is understandable,in light of the fact that Cameroon is a relatively

poor country with a large proportion of its population engaged in and

depending on agriculture, and with food expenditures still claiming

a relatively large proportion of the real national income. Unlike

many other commodities, food needs are most urgent and the least

postponable of all. In light of these considerations, the Government

sees one of its most pressing obligations as the assurance of the

availability of, and accessibility to an adequate food supply for its


At present, Cameroon lacks exceptionally buoyant export prospects,

whether from exploitation of natural resources or otherwise. Slipping


into a food deficit situation would subject the economy to international

food-price inflation. The country's balance of payments position could

then be quickly damaged by high food imports and its development process

and programs could become victims of growth-retarding food financing


Food deficits would severely hurt the urban population in the short

run, and the national economy would be adversely affected in the longer

run. At the present time, farm areas generally are producing enough food

to satisfy their consumption needs. This situation is not necessarily

the case, however, for the country as a whole. Furthermore, for a number

of reasons, the Government has been unsuccessful in its efforts to develop

and implement effective programs to cope with the country's increasing

food deficit situation. To a large extent, the problem is related to its

inability to finance domestic food programs at levels sufficient to

significantly increase aggregate production. Furthermore, the

Government can not rely with confidence on foreign assistance to

cover shortfalls in domestic production.- Also, even if reliable

food aid were available, there would still be the problems of (a)

financing commercial sales, (b) administering concessional food aid

so that the most needy is reached, and (c) the potential disincentive

effects of food aid on long-term domestic food production. If

sufficient imports cannot be obtained through commercial sales or

concessional food aid, the country's economic problems are likely to

- An inadequate marketing system certainly has disincentive effects
on actual and potential producers who, though they may be able to
produce enough, do not do so because they may not be able to market
their produce, or they may not market it at a profitable price. This,
obviously, could be a major factor in food deficits, particularly
in the cities.


be compounded by problems of social unrest and violence, particularly

in urban areas.

For countries that possess great natural production potential,

and in which appropriate institutional infrastructure exists, food

production and marketing activities can play a very dynamic role in

the development process. In the case of Cameroon, both food shortages

and erratic prices in urban areas can be partly attributed to the

nature and functioning of the urban-rural marketing linkages. This

study seeks to characterize and evaluate marketing activities linking

farm and city, and to determine their overall impact on agricultural

development programs. It is believed that sound knowledge regarding

the structure and functioning of the food system will facilitate

effective program planning and implementation of production and

marketing development strategies. This knowledge, in turn, will add

a key ingredient to the transitional process in moving from a pre-

dominantly subsistence type food economy to a market-oriented economy.

Marketing Studies in West Africa

The rapid rate of growth in the non-farm demand for foodstuffs

in Cameroon is a relatively recent phenomena. The same is true for

most of West Africa. In light of this observation, it has been

suggested that traditional food markets have worked rather well in

Africa. In this regard, Jones [18, p. 18] writes:

All evidence confirms that the basic food situation in
Africa did not worsen during the period when exports
were expanding rapidly, and although a few countries
report significant imports in staple foods in recent
years, the subcontinent continues to meet almost all
of its basic requirements in food calories.

With regard to Jones' observation, it should be noted that some of


the most recent imports were due to the severe drought that struck

the Sahelian countries of the subcontinent.

Observations of food crop marketing channels and structures in

many of the countries of this region, and comments on the implications

of marketing deficiency, were made available in a 1963 publication

by Bohannan and Dalton [4]. Unfortunately, the work was basically

descriptive and, as such, provided limited insights into the evolution

and economic characteristics of African food marketing systems.

Poleman's study [46] of the staple food economy of Ghana provides

important insights into the sources of supply, distances travelled,

volume of shipments and seasonal variation for selected commodities

in that country. In addition, food marketing studies have been

conducted in Sierra Leone [17], and Nigeria [14, 16, 55]. In the

case of Nigeria, Gusten [16] provides data on the physical movement

of commodities into Western Nigerian markets. Gilbert [14] examines

seasonal variation and marketing efficiency in Northern Nigeria by

use of price analysis, while Whitney [55] focuses on the structure

and functioning of the staple food marketing system in Eastern

Nigeria. Additional insights into the marketing problems in Africa

is provided by Jones' [18] review of the functioning of marketing

systems in Kenya, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. This particular work

is important in that it uses price analysis within the perfectly

competitive economic framework to evaluate marketing efficiency.

In Cameroon, Dongmo [9] studied the marketing channels and

structure of maize in the Western Province, while Ongla [43] described

the physical movement of foodstuffs in the Yemessoa area, as an

integral part of his study of the economics of food production in

that area. Other studies include Buys [6] Franqueville [13],


Ndengoue [40] and Portegeis [47]. The most recent study is Nsangou's

thesis [41] on foodstuffs marketing in the L6ki6 Division. Nsangou,

in examining the performance of foodstuffs marketing in this area,

uses such performance variables as seasonal variation and price


The foregoing literature review is not intended to be an

exhaustive list of foodstuffs marketing studies in Central and West

Africa in general, and in Cameroon in particular. Other studies

obviously exist, but their contents are unknown. Field work for

these studies was done in the region, but in many instances analyses

and publications were done in European institutions and the results

are generally not available.

Literature review of food crop marketing studies in Africa

indicates a disproportionate number of studies in Anglophone countries.

There is a paucity of marketing studies in Francophone Africa, which

is reflected in the limited number of studies dealing with Cameroon

marketing problems. Furthermore, available studies have been either

too general or too timid to provide a solid basis for appropriate

policy formulation. Although this can be justified to some extent

by the extreme scarcity and difficulty of data collection, there is,

nevertheless, a clear need for more penetrating economic analysis of

inter- and intra-marketing channel relationships. Only after the

structure and conduct characteristics of the various food marketing

systems of Cameroon are clearly delineated and the systems' perfor-

mance assessed will it be possible to take appropriate actions to

help the marketing system achieve its facilitating and coordinating

role in the development process.



The general objective of this study is to describe and evaluate

the existing marketing system for selected food commodities in Yaounde

and adjacent areas as a basis for improved marketing and economic

development policy recommendations. Specific objectives are to:

(a) Characterize and evaluate the structure and forces

affecting the conduct of selected food crops marketing

systems, in Yaound6 and adjacent areas.

(b) Evaluate the performance of the food crop marketing system

in central Cameroon to determine how well the system serves

the community and the development process.

(c) Identify and recommend policy measures for improving the

marketing system, taking into account existing and/or

planned programs to increase and improve the production

and distribution of basic foodstuffs.


This study uses market structure theory to provide a conceptual

framework for evaluating the effectiveness of the existing food

marketing system in Yaound6 and vicinity. The basic conceptual frame-

work follows that developed by Bain [2] and Mueller [36, 37] for

market research focusing on structure, conduct and performance

dimensions of marketing systems.

Because of lack of extensive secondary data both at the producer

and consumer levels, sample survey data are used in conjunction with

available secondary data to describe market structure in terms of

product flow and exchange levels and marketing facilities and agents.



The general objective of this study is to describe and evaluate

the existing marketing system for selected food commodities in Yaounde

and adjacent areas as a basis for improved marketing and economic

development policy recommendations. Specific objectives are to:

(a) Characterize and evaluate the structure and forces

affecting the conduct of selected food crops marketing

systems, in Yaound6 and adjacent areas.

(b) Evaluate the performance of the food crop marketing system

in central Cameroon to determine how well the system serves

the community and the development process.

(c) Identify and recommend policy measures for improving the

marketing system, taking into account existing and/or

planned programs to increase and improve the production

and distribution of basic foodstuffs.


This study uses market structure theory to provide a conceptual

framework for evaluating the effectiveness of the existing food

marketing system in Yaound6 and vicinity. The basic conceptual frame-

work follows that developed by Bain [2] and Mueller [36, 37] for

market research focusing on structure, conduct and performance

dimensions of marketing systems.

Because of lack of extensive secondary data both at the producer

and consumer levels, sample survey data are used in conjunction with

available secondary data to describe market structure in terms of

product flow and exchange levels and marketing facilities and agents.


Primary data, also collected through the sample survey method, are

used to evaluate the behavior of firms, including the types of

decisions made by marketing agents. Aspects studied under market

conduct include such factors as the degree of communication and

association among market agents.

Empirical assessment of the characteristics and magnitude of

the structure and conduct variables form the basis for the market

performance segment of the study. Performance criteria such as price

margins, price variability and price integration, to name a few, are

used in assessing not only how well the consumer is served, but also

the relative strength of economic linkages in the delivery system.

Secondary data were derived from official government and private

agency reports. In addition, extensive use was made of unpublished

data supplied by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Planning,

Provincial and Divisional Services of the Ministry of Agriculture and

the Food Development Authority. Primary data, however, represents a

larger proportion of the data used in this study. Producers, whole-

salers and retailers being the major participants in the marketing

system, representative samples of each one of the groups were drawn.

Sampling procedures and sample size of the various constituents of

the study are discussed below.


Retailers constitute the most diversified group within the

marketing system. The different types of retailers can be identified

as: cooperatives, public market retailers, street retailers,

neighborhood stores and self-service food stores. For the commodities


which are of interest in this study, only public market retailers and

street retailers are studied. A sample of public market retailers was

drawn by randomly selecting a certain number of retailers from each

of five public markets, for a total of 73 retailers (Table A9).

Street retailers were mainly interviewed during late afternoons,

mostly at major intersections in seven areas of Yaounde. In all,

a sample of 35 randomly selected street vendors were interviewed

(Table A8).

Food Prices in Yaound6

The purpose of this survey was to collect price data on a

number of food products in selected Yaound6 markets. The sample of

Yaounde markets included the three major markets (Mokolo, Central,

and Mvog Mbi), and six neighborhood markets selected on the basis of

their location around the city: Madagascar, Melen, Ngoa-Ekel6,

Abattoir, Mvog Ada and Nlongkak.

Three enumerators were assigned to the survey. They carried

a portable scale and a set of weights for measuring the weight of

the products in the markets. The nine markets were visited by the

three enumerators on a rotating basis, following a predetermined


The price survey included 14 products, 10 of which are included

in this study. Sellers of these products were selected randomly by

the enumerators, and up to three sellers of a particular product

could be interviewed the same day. The data collected were used to

compute the monthly average prices used in this study. Tables Al

through A7 present individual product samples.



Wholesalers were the most difficult group to define and interview.

This group is made up primarily of individuals who bring truckloads

of foodstuffs to the market place and sell them in large quantities.

Thirty-one of them were randomly selected and interviewed (Table A9).


A 1976 truckers' survey conducted by the Food Development

Authority [12] reveals that the bulk of foodstuffs consumed in

Yaounde is supplied by regions north, west and south of the

city. Based on this information, three representative Administrative

Divisions, one in each of the regions, were selected for study.

A list of representative villages was made for each area, and

three supply areas selected in each of the three divisions,

based on population characteristics, distance from market,.volume of

production, potential marketable surplus, etc., (Fig. 4 and Table 15).

Finally, at least 20 farmers were randomly selected and interviewed

in each of the nine villages (Table A10).

Choice of the Products Studied and Rationale

The term foodstuffs, as used in this study, primarily covers

yams, cassava, maize, cocoyams, plantains and groundnuts. Other

foodstuffs whose names appear from time to time are beans, tomatoes,

onions and rice. Also, groundnuts, cassava, and maize may appear in

more than one form, i.e., raw or semi-processed. These commodities

were selected for study on the basis of their importance in the

daily and projected food supply of the Yaoundd area. The relative


importance of the various food items were discussed earlier.


The agricultural sector serves as the mainspring of national

economic growth in the Cameroon. The country relies heavily on its

cash crops for most of its foreign exchange earnings,, and domestic

food production has expanded sufficiently since independence, to

the point that the country is now able to satisfy a good proportion

of its requirement for basic foodstuffs from domestic production./

The purpose of this section is to provide an overview of the

economic characteristics of the agricultural sector in general, and

the food crop subsector in particular.

Agriculture and the National Economy

It has been estimated that in 1975 over 80 percent of Cameroon's

population earned its livelihood from agriculture and related activi-

ties [53]. Although agriculture continues to persist in its dominant

role in the economy, its relative contribution to Gross Domestic

Product (GDP) has remained relatively stable over the years (Table 4).

Beginning in 1964/65 and continuing up'to 1970/71, the Gross

Domestic Product increased steadily at an average annual rate of 9.8

Z/Imports of foodstuffs, drinks and tobacco declined between 1969/70
and 1974/75, from 108,017 tons to 107,757 tons. Imports were highest
in 1971/72 (139,092 tons), and lowest in 1973/74 (100,488 tons). In
value terms, however, they increased steadily until 1971/72, from
5,771 million CFA francs in 1969/70 to 7,341.5 million CFA francs in
1971/72,declined slightly in 1972/73 (6,414.8 millions), and then
increased again in the following two years, reaching new heights of
7,675.3 and 10,964.1 million CFA francs in 1973/74 and 1974/75,
respectively. In view of the decrease in volume, it is assumed that
the increases in value terms are due to increases in prices or changes
in composition [33].


Table 4.--Gross Domestic Product by sectors, Cameroon, selected years, in
current prices-a

Sectors Subsectors 1964/65 1967/68 1970/71 1974/75

Amount % Amount % Amount % Amount %

Billion Billion Billion Billion
CFA Frs. CFA Frs. CFA Frs. CFA Frs.

Primary Overall 58.6 34.9 77.5 35.1 93.2 35.0 157.0 34.9

Industries 19.2 11.5 25.3 11.4 37.3 14.0 64.8 14.8
Building 10.8 6.4 14.1 6.4 16.7 6.0 24.6 5.6
Secondary Power-Water 6.2 .3.7 7.5 3.4 9.5. 3.0 15.0 3.4

Overall 36.2 21.6 46.9 21.2 63.5 23.0 104.4 23.8

Commerce 35.6 21.2 49.6 22.4 85.2 32.0 137.7 31.5
Services and
Tertiary Institutions 26.5 15.9 32.9 14.8 11.1 4.0 14.4 3.3
Transport and
Communications 10.8 6.4 14.3 6.5 15.3 6.0 23.5 5.4

Overall 62.9 43.5 96.8 43.7 11.8 42.0 175.6 40.2

All Sectors 167.7 100.0 221.3 100.0 268.5 100.0 437.0 100.0

/250 CFA Francs = $1 U.S.

Source: [32].

percent. The highest growth rate registered over this period occurred in

the three years 1966/67-1968/69, when the Gross Domestic Product at current

prices rose at an average annual rate of 11 percent. During the same three-

year period, commerce expanded at the rate of 14 percent per annum, whereas

agriculture and industry increased at a rate of 12 percent [32].

During the 1970/71-1972/73 period, a combination of adverse weather conditions


Table 5.--Structure and volume of Cameroon's major export products,
1970/71 and 1974/75

1970/71 1974/75

Products Quantity Percent of Quantity Percent of
total value total value

Metric Metric
tons tons

Cocoa (Beans) 78,487 28.0 74,312 27.8
Arabica Coffee 18,285 8.3 25,738 7.5
Robusta Coffee 41,168 15.4 50,672 11.7
Bananas 50,240 2.7 73,389 3.4
Rubber 13,774 2.1 17,974 1.7
Groundnuts 9,504 0.9 24,380 2.1
Palm oil and kernels 8,504 1.1 5,871 2.6
Cotton fiber 30,325 6.9 13,813 2.2
Timber (Wood in the
rough) 424,064 6.8 472,490 7.2
(Unprocessed) 36,946 8.8 28,220 3.8
Cocoa by-products 22,621 5.4 15,897 8.2
Others -- 13.6 -- 14.5

Total -- 100.0 -- 100.0

Source: [33, Tables I, II and III, pp. 65 through 68].

and instability in the world markets disrupted the pre-1970/71 growth

trends. For example, the GDP growth rate registered in 1972/73 was only

8.4 percent. Expansion, however, was restored in 1973/74 when, compared

to the 1972/73 levels, the Gross Domestic Product, at current prices, rose

by 17.6 percent, to reach 416,000 million CFA francs, as against 353,600


million CFA francs the previous year [32]. Average growth rate per

annum, at current prices, was close to 12.4 percent between 1970/71

and 1974/75 (Table 4).

The Food Crop Subsector

In 1975 the agricultural sector.(primary sector) accounted for

36 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (Table 4), and a

little more than 70 percent of the value of its total exports (Table 5).

The dominant role of agriculture in the country's international trade

makes the sector the main source of the foreign exchange earnings

needed for purchase of capital equipment.

Cameroon produces an exceptionally wide variety of food and cash

crops. This production mix represents a logical response to a highly

diversified set of ecological and climatic conditions, as well as to
diversified consumption habits among the population.- One can identi-

fy four major subsectors within the country's agricultural sector.

These subsectors, as well as the relative distribution of the Gross

Domestic Product within the agricultural sector, are shown in Table 6.

The first subsector is comprised of mainly crop production; both

crops grown primarily for domestic consumption and cash crops. Although

all food crops are produced on traditional farms, with the exception

of rice, cash crops are produced on traditional as well as on modern

farms. The second subsector is livestock production, while forestry

and fishery constitute the other two subsectors.

Table 6 shows that the food crop subsector is responsible for

the largest share of the Gross Domestic Product originating in the

-Cameroon is said to possess more than 50 different ethnic groups
speaking more than 100 different dialects [53].


Table 6.--Subsectorial distribution of the Gross Domestic Product, the
agricultural sector, Cameroon, 1961/62 and 1971/72

1961/62 1971/72

Subsectors Amount % of sector Amount % of sector

Billion Billion
CFA Frs. CFA Frs.

Food crops 28.40 32.31 50.96 44.92
Export crops
Traditional sector 13.50 15.35/ 27.53 24.27a/
Modern sector 11.70 13.3la/ 5.08 4.48a/

Traditional sector n.a.b- n.a. 13.00 11.46
Modern sector n.a. n.a. 0.08 0.07

Traditional sector n.a. n.a. 8.00 7.05
Modern sector n.a. n.a. 3.41 3.00

Traditional sector n.a. n.a. 3.97 3.50
Modern sector n.a. n.a. 1.41 1.24

All subsectors 87.90 100.0 113.44 100.00

- These dramatic and unexpected changes are probably related to changes in
- Information not available.

Source: [32].

agricultural sector. It further shows that its relative contribution

increased over the decade 1961/62-1971/72, from 28.4 billion CFA francs,

to 50.96 billion.. This represents a 79.5 percent increase in value terms.

Its relative share of the agricultural sector's income also increased

from 32 percent to almost 45 percent over the same period.


Table 6 shows that the traditional sector still plays a dominant

role in generating the income of the primary sector. Although a break-

down of the respective contributions of the traditional and modern

sectors to the GDP of the livestock, fishery and forestry subsectors

could not be obtained for 1961/62, the 1971/72 figures clearly show

how important the contribution of the traditional sector still is.

The basic food crops are cereals and starchy roots and plantains.

Millet, sorghum, and maize are the primary crops in the first group,

while cocoyams, cassava, and yams fall into the starchy roots cate-

gory. These crops constitute the basic staple food items in rural

areas, as well as a large proportion of food items consumed in urban

areas. It should be noted, however, that the urban population is

increasing its consumption of imported food products [15].

The production-distribution of the major food crops tends to

coincide with regional ecological conditions. Sorghum and millet

are primarily grown in the far North, groundnuts and "mouskwari"

(dry season sorghum) are grown north of the Adamaoua plateau, and

maize, groundnuts, and starchy roots are grown south of the Adamaoua.

Generally, the southern region has climatic conditions suitable to at

least two cropping seasons per year while the northern region has

only one cropping season.

Table 7 shows estimates of selected food crop production in

Cameroon for the period 1971/72-1974/75. These estimates are

interesting, in light of their implication for the relative success

(or failure) of the targeted food production goals of the country's

Third Five Year Development Plan [34]. The production period

coincides with the period when the targeted food production objectives

were in effect. The plan outlined a series of food production strategies


Table 7.--Production of selected food crops, Cameroon, 1971/72 to

Food crops 1971-72 1972-73 1973-74/ 1974-75a/

----------------------Metric tons------------------

and Sorghum 339,600 321,300 309,455 366,372
Rice 13,800 7,600 11,867 24,000
Maize 282,800 300,000 316,538 376,847
Groundnuts 153,000 166,000 174,378 165,300
Sugar Cane 178,500 185,000 n.a.b/ 252,000
Cocoyam-Taro 603,600 635,000 625,387 850,000
Cassava 662,000 719,000 732,082 811,102
Potatoes (sweet) 127,600 149,000 144,414 150,600
Yams 268,000 380,000 355,989 363,767
Irish potatoes 30,600 38,000 39,679 37,791
Plantain 763,000 840,000 889,128 1,070,000

The 1973/74 and 1974/75 production statistics do not
the North West and South West Provinces.

include those of

- Information not available.

Source: [30, 33].

that would generate positive supply response for domestic food crops.

It was estimated that the potential response would be sufficient to hold

average food prices down to the targeted 3.5 percent increase per annum

over the 1971-1976 period [33]. In reality, however, aggregate food

supply over the planning period fell short of the targeted objectives,

with the result that average food prices rose to levels well above the

targeted price goal. A combination of unfavorable trends in world

markets, local weather conditions, coupled with rising cost of imported


capital goods and production inputs, acted in concert to prevent the

realization of planning objectives. The problem can be illustrated by

the experience with cereal production in northern Cameroon, particularly

millet and sorghum. In 1974/75, the production of these cereals was

estimated at 350,000 tons, or 130,000 tons below the 1967/68 level, and

180,000 tons below the Third Plan's targeted level [34].

The tendency for regional specialization in food crop production

is illustrated by the food crop distribution patterns given in Table 8.

It should be borne in mind, however, that no single region of the

country can be associated exclusively with the production of any single

food crop or groups of food crops. The same is true of crops other

than food crops. For example, in the case of export crops (formerly

referred to as cash crops), the Center South Province was responsible

for the bulk of the country's cocoa exports (90 percent) [30]. As

such, it is referred to as the "cocoa region." However, the region

also produces more than 40 percent of the cassava, and over 40 percent

of the plantains consumed in the country (Table 8).

The South West and North West Provinces actually have a somewhat

more diversified agricultural economy than that suggested by Table 8.

These provinces produce a wide range of food crops for local consumption.

In 1963/64, they produced almost 30 and 34 percent of the yams and

sweet potatoes, respectively, and 27, 24 and 24 percent, respectively,

of the cocoyam and taro, plantains, and maize in Cameroon (Table 8).

The South West and North West Provinces are also major producers of export

crops as indicated in Table 9. Despite evidence to the contrary, these

two provinces, like others, are usually identified primarily in terms

of their export crops.

Table 8.--Percentage regional production distribution of food crops, Cameroon, 1963/64 and 1974/75a/


Food crops North West
Center and
North East South Littoral West South West

1963/64 1974/75 1963/64 1974/75 1963/64 1974/75 1963/64 1974/75 1963/64 1974/75 1963/64 1974/75


Yams 6.30 13.12 0.10 1.06 28.60 33.50 8.70 7.11 27.00 43.98 29.30
and Taro 0.20 4.99 0.90 1.43 20.80 34.62 20.90 39.60 30.60 23.36 26.60
Cassava 21.90 19.19 8.20 10.16 46.30 40.71 12.90 15.03 3.90 14.10 6.80
Potatoes 19.70 20.59 0.70 1.09 8.70 18.40 2.50 3.49 34.90' 56.30 33.7
Plantains -- 0.08 13.10 13.19 40.20 41.99 12.20 18.59 10.60 25.40 23.9 --
Millet and
Sorghum 100.00 100.00 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Maize 6.80 6.19 3.70 5.58 9.40 15.31 1.80 9.78 54.60 61.24 23.7
Groundnuts 45.40 23.37 6.60 5.56 18.20 23.13 3.10 11.13 17.6 36.75 9.1

/The 1974/75

figures are limited to the former East Cameroon region.

Source: [26, 34].


Table 9.--Distribution of major export crops, by province, Cameroon,

Provinces Export crops

Center South Cocoa

East Forestry, Robusta Coffee

Littoral Banana, Palm Oil and Palm.Kernels

North Cotton, Groundnuts

South West Palm Oil, Bananas, Rubber

North West Arabica Coffee, Tea

West Arabica Coffee, Robusta Coffee

Source: [331.

All evidence supports the contention that the food crop subsector

of Cameroon is a vital component of the economic structure. The fallacy

of associating export crops with "cash crops" has been partially

dispelled by a somewhat belated recognition of the fact that food

crops are in fact cash crops. As such it is now recognized that the

food crop subsector has the potential of providing vital economic

linkages between production and consumption activities, via its role

as an income generating sector. Furthermore, concerted efforts to

expand and sustain the economic performance of the subsector is by

necessity, a first step towards the realization of a balanced agricul-

tural and national economic structure.

Recognition of the importance of the food crop subsector not-

withstanding, the fact remains that national agricultural policy is


still skewed in favor of the development of the export crop subsector.

Infrastructural support for food crop development is still at a

relatively low level. Very little support is provided for the pro-

duction, selection and distribution of improved varietal stocks.

Experimental and commercial work involving the use of fertilizer and

pest management techniques are heavily concentrated on export crops.

Also, the technical competence of the extension personnel of Ministry

of Agriculture are highly specialized, and as such lack the knowledge

to effectively deal with the technical problems of food crop producers.

To further compound the problem, research activities of agri-

cultural stations are also specialized according to their geographical

location. These highly specialized units are production oriented,

with little or no research activities directed towards the distri-

bution and consumption aspects of the system. For example, food

crop marketing research activities are virtually nonexistent.

Whereas export producers are relatively well assured of a market for

their products (the marketing system being well organized and prices

guaranteed), the same is not true for food crop producers. The

recently created Food Development Authority, largely because of its

limited scope and inadequate funding, has been ineffective in

rectifying this situation.


A number of regions in Cameroon have experienced significant

structural changes since the country gained its independence in 1960.

These changes have affected the historical relationships between farm

areas and cities, the agricultural and nonagricultural sectors, and

the social structure. In terms of the magnitude of change, the pace


has been set by the Center South Province, and its major urban center,

the city of Yaound6. The structural evolution of the greater Yaound4

area generated significant economic and social impacts on the regional

economy. Since such changes were typical of many other regions, this

particular area provides a logical setting for the type of analysis

proposed in this study.

The Center South Province

Physical Setting

The Center South Province occupies an area of 116,175 square

kilometers and includes about 1,354,400 inhabitants. The region is

second only to the North Province in terms of both population and area.

However, the region is undoubtedly, the most structurally complex of

the seven provinces of the United Republic of Cameroon. It is bordered

by the East Province; to the South by the Popular Republic of Congo,

the Republic of Gabon and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea; to the

Southwest by the Atlantic Ocean; to the West by the Littoral Province,

and to the Northwest by the West Province. The province is therefore

in direct contact with three African countries, and through its sea-

port at Kribi, with the rest of the World (Fig. 2).

Geographically, the region is located between degrees 2 and 6

of the northern parallels and longitudes 9030 and 140 East. The

province experiences a four-season equatorial climate with minor

variations in the littoral and northern sections of the region.

The four seasons are:

Short rainy season (mid-March early June)

Short dry season (June early August)






OF o0 opF

Figure 2. The Center South Province: Divisions and major towns,

Source: [30].

Provincial L;m'U4s
----- Divisional Limits

Major Tobwns


Long rainy season (mid-August mid-November)

Long dry season (mid-November mid-March)

Average annual rainfall and temperature ranges for the region are

1500mm to 1800mm and 230 to 240 centigrades, respectively [531.

The area's vegetation varies from a densely forested region

South of a line passing through Bafia, Ntui and Nanga-Eboko, to a

bushy savannah just North of that line. Between the two extremes

there is a so-called "transition zone," made up essentially of inter-

mittent island forest zones surrounded by vast areas of savannah

type vegetation [53].

The soil types are predominantly red ferrallitic, with a high

percentage of argil and a very low percentage of calcium. The

exchange capacity of these soils is very low and the saturation rate

is variable. Hydromorphic soils can be found in valleys and in

the littoral zone and are characterized by a high content of partially

decomposed organic material [48, 53].


In 1974/75 the estimated population of the Center South Province

was 1,354,400 or 20.5 percent of the country's estimated 6,608,600

population. Population density is not uniform throughout the Province

(Table 10). It varies from 1 inhabitant or less per square kilometer

in areas north of the Mbam, east of Dja et Lobo and south of the Ntem

Divisions; to 10 inhabitants per square kilometer in other regions of

the preceding divisions and in the Ocean and Haute Sanaga Divisions

(Fig. 2). The density varies from 10 to 50 inhabitants per square

kilometer east of Nyong-et-Kell& and Ocean and north of Ntem. Certain

areas of Nyong-et-Soo, Dja et Lobo, Nyong-et-Mfoumou and Mbam have

Table 10.--Population distribution and density, rural and urban population, Center South Province,

Area Percent
Divisions population of total Density Rural population Urban population

Number Pe sons/ Number % of total Number % of total

Dja et Lobo 102,000 8.1 5.2 86,800 85.1 15,200 14.9
Haute Sanaga 45,300 3.6 3.8 43,600 96.2 1,700 3.8
LUkie 165,700 17.2 54.7 159,100 96.0 6,600 4.0
Mbam 175,800 14.1 5.1 149,400 85.0 26,-400 15.0
Mefou 449,400 28.0 89.1 233,800 52.0 215,800 48.0
Ntem 124,600 10.0 7.8 117,600 94.4 7,000 5.6
Nyong-et-Kell6 84,300 6.7 13.5 74,200 88.0 10,000 12.0
Nyong-et-Mfoumou 66,800 5.3 11.3 63,900 95.7 2,900 4.3
Nyong-et-Soo 72,600 5.8 20.2 53,700 74.0 18,900 26.0
Ocean 63,400 5.1 5.4 58,900 92.9 4,500 7.1

All divisions 1,349,900 100.0 10.6 1,040,800 77.1 309,100 22.9

Source: [151.


Table ll.--Structure of the rural population by age and sex, Center
South Province, 1972/73


Sex Under 15 Between 15 Over 54 Total Percent of
years and 54 years years total


Male 198.9 210.9 54.0 452.9 47.1

Female 199.2 265.0 56.3 520.5 52.9

Total 398.1 475.0 110.3 983.4 100.0

Percent of
total 40.5 48.3 11.2 100.0

Source: [31].

densities of 10 to 20 inhabitants per square kilometer. The Monatele-

Evodoula-Ngomedzap-Awae axis has between 20 and 50 inhabitants per

square kilometer. The highest population concentration is found

around the Bafia-Obala-Yaound--Mbalmayo axis (Table 10 and Fig. 2).

The 1972/73 census indicated that 40.5 percent of the region's

rural population was.under 15 years of age, and that only 48.3 percent

of the total rural population was actively participating in the rural

labor force. Also, 47.1 percent of the rural population were male

and 52.9 percent female (Table 11). The percentage of women is

highest in the active population age group, i.e., between ages 15

and 54. It has been suggested that this can partly be explained by

the fact that men in this age group have a higher rural to urban

migration rate. The result is a higher proportion of men in the


active population age group is found in the urban population [15].

The region is, to a great extent, a replica of the entire country

in terms of the ethnic composition of its population. However, despite

the highly diversified ethnic composition of urban areas, one still

finds areas that can be considered homogeneous. Some of these homo-

geneous areas are: (a) the Bassa occupied region of Nyong-et-Kelle,

(b) the Ewondo areas of West Nyong-et-Soo, East Ocean and South Mefou,

(c) the Boulou dominated area of Ntem and Dja et Lobo, and (d) the

Eton occupied areas of Ldki6 and North Mefou.

In 1973/74, 1,040,800 persons lived in the rural areas of the

province, while 309,100 persons lived in urban areas, or 77 and 23

percent, respectively, of the area's population (Table 10). The

1973/74 agricultural census also reveals that, among the active rural

population, 91 percent were involved in crop production (Table 12).

Economic Structure

The economy of the Center South Province provides a good illus-

tration of a dualistic economic structure. It is dualistic in the

sense that there is a traditional subsistence agriculture component

and a market-oriented agriculture component. Traditional agriculture

is characterized by low productivity and incomes resulting from the

absence of new technology and government policies supporting agricul-

tural development in food crops. Very little of the food crops are

marketed. On the other hand, commercial agriculture is the dominant

form in traditional export commodities and is increasing in food

crops production. Although the dominant feature is one of increasing

numbers of small peasant farmers producing a combination of food crops


Table 12.--Structure of the economically active rural population,
Center South Province, 1973/74

Active rural Percent of
population Male Female Total total


Civil servants -- 5.3 1.0

Handicraftsmen -- 26.3 5.0

Fishermen, hunters
cattlemen and
forestry workers -- 15.8 3.0

Farmers -- 479.2 91.0

Total 233.8 292.8 526.6 100.0

Source: [15, p. 22].

and export crops, there is also a relatively small number of capital

intensive "estates" specializing in export crops.

As is the case for the country as a whole, agriculture is the

dominant sector in the region. For the period 1972/1973, agriculture,

livestock, fishing, forestry and mining, the primary sector of the

region's economy, contributed 40 percent to the regional Gross Domestic

Product. However, agriculture, livestock and fishing contributed almost

36 of the 40 percent, which is not only the largest contribution to this

Province's Gross Domestic Product but represents almost 90 percent of

the primary sector's GDP (Table 13).

The tertiary sector is almost as important as the primary sector,

in terms of its relative contribution to the region's Gross Domestic

Product. However, in terms of subsectoral contribution, none of the


Table 13.--Sector contribution to Gross Domestic Product, Center South
Province, 1972/73, current prices

1972/73 GDP
Sectors Subsectors

Amount % subsector % total

Billion CFA

Crop production,
livestock, fishing








Mining 0.1 0.3 0.1

Total primary
sector 21.2 100.0 40.0










Power-Water 1.4 13.6 2.7

Total secondary
sector 10.4 100.0

Commerce 8.2 38.2 15.4

Services and
Banking 6.8 31.6 12.8

and Transit

Total tertiary

Source: [15].







-----------------,,, ,,,,------------- - - - -


other subsectors approach anywhere near agriculture's contribution

to regional income. For example, next to agriculture, the commerce

subsector in the tertiary sector is the next important subsector.

However, even in its case the relative contribution to regional

GDP is only 15.4 percent.

In the traditional agricultural sector, income per economically

active person is low. It is estimated that in 1973 the average

annual per capital income of rural people, including goods consumed

by producers' families, was about 23,400 CFA francs ($94.0) [15].

This low income can be partly explained by the low levels of produc-

tive inputs used in crop and/or livestock production. Another important

reason for the low productivity is underemployment in rural areas,

particularly among men [15]. Many men are underemployed in rural

areas because they lack cultivatable land and/or other necessary

inputs which would permit them to undertake a scale of operation

capable of generating enough income to improve their living conditions.

Underemployment tends to become converted into open unemployment over

time. Thus, these two factors act as a stimulus for the rural male

population to migrate to urban areas in search of improved employment


Following the trend exhibited in cocoa and coffee production,

the food crop subsector is rapidly moving away from a subsistence

type agriculture to a more commercial type. However, regionally,

agriculture is still characterized by.the small family farms from

which most of the food is obtained [28]. The methods of farming used

on these farms are still rudimentary. Shifting cultivation is still

generally practiced, with soil fertility being regenerated by fallow,

and manual labor the primary source of energy. Within this type of


farming system, the dominant production pattern is "associated cropping,"

in which a number of different crops are cultivated in the same field

(Table 14). Although associated cropping might provide certain economic

advantages, in addition to providing protection to the soil, it renders

difficult organized attempts to improve crop yields.

The primary source of income in the region is cocoa production.

However, food products are rapidly becoming an important source of

income for rural families. Recent recognition of the relative

importance of food products as a major source of income, stems from

increased awareness of the imputed value of on-farm food consumption

within the total family income situation. In certain areas of the

Center South Province, palm wine is another major source of family


Transportation System

Transportation infrastructure is a vital ingredient in a viable

marketing system. It is vital in the sense that it provides links

between producers, marketing agents and consumers. A network of roads

links Yaound6 to the rest of the Center South Province and to other

regions of the country. The "transcameroonian" railway, linking

Southern Cameroon to North Cameroon, also crosses the Center South


The railway link between Douala and Ngaounder6 constitutes a

potentially powerful means of transporting farm products for those

zones of the province which it crosses. However, this potential has

not been exploited, primarily as a result of line congestion stemming

from the handling of forest products from the Nanga-Eboko-Belabo area.

Table 14.--Common crop varieties produced in the Center South Province


Tubers and sacchariferous plants

Vegetable plants

Leguminous plants

Cereal plant

Fruit crops

Export crops

Source: 148].

Agricultural Products

Cassava, Cocoyam, Yam, Sugarcane

Cucumber, Okra, Onion, Tomato, African Vegetables

Beans, Voandzou, Groundnuts


Plantain, Banana, Orange, Grapefruit, Lime
Mango, Safou, Guava, Pawpaw, Tangerine, Soursop,
Pineapple, Avocado

Cocoa, Palm oil, Kola



In addition, sections of the railway linking Douala to Yaounde have

been plagued by frequent derailments,.resulting in substantial traffic

delays and associated increases in storage and transportation costs.

Another factor of equal importance, is the fact that in most cases

railway lines tend to link stations, with limited spur lines servicing

farm areas, or even without good roads that could link nearby farm

areas to railway stations.

The road system of the area (Figs. 3 and 4) is comprised of primary

and secondary roads that link the countryside to Yaound6. The primary

roads are: Sangmdlima-Yaound6 via Mbalmayo; Akonolinga-Yaound6;

Nanga-Eboko-Yaounde via Obala; Bafia-Yaound6 via Obala; Douala-Yaound6

via Ed&a; and Ebolowa-Yaounde via Mbalmayo. These roads are only

serviceable during a short period of the year, with the exception of

the Yaound6-Obala and Yaound6-Mbalmayo-Sang6lima roads. The generally

poor conditions of the primary roads linking Yaound6 to the countryside,

plus the absence of transversal road links, poses a serious transpor-

tation bottleneck to the development of the area's agriculture.

Secondary roads, and even some of the primary roads, are generally

impassable during the rainy seasons, thereby isolating farmers from

product and input markets, and urban consumers from vital food supplies.

Delineation of Yaound6 Supply Areas

The city of Yaounde serves as the major trade center and growth

node for the Center South Province. Being the nation's capital, the

city has a dynamic, cosmopolitan and relatively diversified economic

base. As such, it.also serves as the major exchange center for goods

and services for adjacent areas. In light of these characteristics,



Figure 3. Transportation network around Yaounde





Figure 4. Farm areas where food producers were interviewed


our market organization study is keyed to selected areas around

Yaound6 which serve as major supply points for the foodstuffs studied.

A sizable proportion of the Yaounde population are migrants from

the eleven administrative divisions comprising the Center South

Province. For purposes of this study, three administrative divisions

were selected for analysis: Nyong-et-Soo, Nyong-et-Kell6, and Mbam.

Within each of the three divisions a specific supply area was designated.

Three villages or groups of villages were in turn selected from the

designated areas. Selected characteristics and location of the three

supply areas are given in Table 15 and Fig. 4, and the respective

sample size in Table A10. A general overview of the designated

supply areas is presented in the following section.

The Metet Area in the Nyong-et-Soo Division

This supply area is located about 40 kilometers east of Mbalmayo

on the road to Sangm6lima. Metet is a major agricultural district

in the Nyong-et-Soo Division. It is a major producer of cassava,

groundnuts, maize and cocoyams (Table 16). The Nyong-et-Soo Division

covers an area of 3,603 square kilometers and has a population of

about 78,000. The size of this particular supply area is not known.

However, in 1972/73 its population was estimated to be about 11,390

or about 14 percent of the population of the Nyong-et-Soo Division [30].

The three villages selected in this supply area were Mekomo

(532 inhabitants), Ngoantet (1,267 inhabitants) and Mbedoumou II

(378 inhabitants). Their combined population (2,177 inhabitants),

represents more than 19 percent of the population of the supply

Table 15.--Designated supply areas and relative distances from Yaounde and area headquarters

SVillages/Population!/ Distance from Distance from
Division Sub-Division District
Village Pon Yaounde area headquarters
Village Population

Number ------------Kilometers--------------

Nyong-et- Mbalmayo -- Ngoantet 1,267 110 16
Soo Mbedoumou II 378 97 18
Mekomo 532 118 10

Nyong-et- Bot-Makak Dibang Boga-Mahole 329 110 20
Kelle Bomb 323 116 6
Dingombi 389 110 12

Mbam Ntui Kouss6 888 94 6
Nachtigal 622 81 9
Ndimi 252 105 25

Divisions -- -- 4,980

year 1973/74

Source: [48].

estimates for the villages in the Nyong-et-Soo and Nyong-et-Kelle Divisions are for the
while those for the Mbam Division are for the year 1968/69.


district. The three villages are located about 10 to 15 kilometers

from the Yaounde-Sangmelima road.

There are no official estimates of the quantity of agricultural

commodities produced in the villages. However, the relative impor-

tance of food crop production in the general supply area can be

gleaned from the data presented in Table 16.

The Dibang Area in the Nyong-et-Kelle Division

The Dibang area is the headquarters of an administrative as well

as an agricultural district. The district is located 15 kilometers

from the important Yaound&-Douala road. The area is a major supplier

of foodstuffs, such as cocoyams, plantains and palm oil, to the city

of Yaounde (Table 16).

The Nyong-et-Kelle Division covers an area of 6,388 square

kilometers and has a population of 77,868. The division has a

population density of 12 inhabitants per square kilometer [30].

The region represents a transitional zone between the rainy and

hot climate of the Littoral region and the less rainy and moderate

climate of the Central Plateau. The vegetation is primarily of the

forest and savannah type, while the relief can be described as


The population of the Dibang district was estimated at 5,833

inhabitants in 1973/74 or almost 7.5 percent of the population of

the whole division. The three villages (or groups of villages)

selected were: Boga-Mahole (329 inhabitants), Bomb (323 inhabitants)

and Dingombi (389 inhabitants). The district produces a wide

variety of food crops (Table 16).

Table 16.--Annual production estimates, selected food crops, supply areas, 1972/73

Supply Area


Food crops Production % of division Production % of division Production % of division

Metric tons Metric tons Metric tons
Yams 223.375 1.2 18.785 0.2 35,693 24.8

Cocoyams 893.618 5.0 500.210 0.7 1,650 12.1

Cassava 578.490 18.1 502.605 4.8 10,400 15.4

Groundnuts 490.080 11.8 40.480 2.5 460 8.6

Maize 350.600 9.2 82.596 1.7 1,240 7.1

Plantain 470.070 1.6 350.276 1.4 12,320 17.0

Source: [48].


The Ntui Area in the Mbam Division

Ntui is an important subdivision in the Mbam Division. The

area is located 80 kilometers from Yaounde and 80 kilometers from

Bafia, the headquarters of the division. The Ntui area is also

headquarters of an agricultural district, and the subdivision is

located on the important Yaounde-Bafoussam road. The Mbam Division

covers an area of 34,611 square kilometers and has a population of

175,800 inhabitants. The population density of the region is 14.1

inhabitants per square kilometer (Table 10).

The three villages selected in this supply area were Nachtigal

(622 inhabitants), Kousse (888 inhabitants) and Ndimi (252 inhabitants).

The area's combined population of 1,762 inhabitants represented 21
percent of the population of the agricultural district in 1968/69.

Production statistics for selected commodities produced in the Ntui

Subdivision indicate that the area is an important producer of

foodstuffs (Table 16).

Farm Input Characteristics of Study Areas

Agricultural Labor

Traditionally, the agricultural labor force is defined as those

eligible individuals actively engaged in farming and/or agriculturally

related activities, or those individuals whose primary source of

income is derived from farming and/or agriculturally related activities.

In this study, agricultural labor is defined as all persons living

'/The 1968/69 figures are the most recent population estimates for
the area.


on farms. There is, however, no official definition which makes a

clear distinction between the rural nonfarm population and the rural

farm population. In fact, available statistics only make a distinction

between the rural population of working age and the total rural

population. Table 17 presents such a breakdown for the three

administrative divisions studied, and the average for the province

as a whole.

Table 17 indicates that in 1972/73, the farm population of

working age accounted for almost 53 percent of the province's

total farm population. However, this proportion varies from

division to division, and from one village to another. In the Mbam

and Nyong-et-Kell6 Divisions this proportion is under 50 percent,

but is about 52 percent in the Nyong-et-Soo Division. By tradition,

adolescents at the age of 14 are considered to be capable of equi-

valent activity to that of adults actively engaged in field operations.

These adolescents, who for the most part are still attending school,

contribute to the labor capacity of the farm family during off-school

periods of the year. This contribution is important, since family

labor is the primary source of labor inputs, and such inputs are

likely to be in short supply during peak planting and harvesting


Customs and traditions dictate a division of labor between men

and women within the farm family. Generally, the husband is respon-

sible for land clearing and ground preparation, while the wife is

responsible for the cultivation and harvesting activities. These

and other factors combine to limit the scope and output of farming

operations based almost exclusively on family labor. Two of the

major limitations are: (a) the small size of the farms and (b) the


Table 17.--Selected farm population characteristics, supply areas and
Center South Province, 1972/73

Average number of persons Average popu- Average
Division/ of working age per farm lation per age of
Province farm head
Number % of total

Mbam 2.6 42.6 6.1 46

Soo 2.7 51.9 5.2 48

Kelle 2.8 47.5 5.9 48

Center South
Province 2.7 52.9 5.1 48

Source: [29].

fact that when a member of the family is ill, all production activities

are disrupted or brought to a standstill.

Interestingly, a communal approach to labor input has been adopted

in the three study areas, and in the Center South Province in general.

Labor is supplied by a number of male and female labor teams. These

teams are, in reality, associations of men and/or women who have

reached an agreement to pool their labor in order to carry out pre-

established tasks. Constituted on the basis of certain affinities,

these teams generally work on individual farms and appear to be a

logical response to labor resource constraints resulting from a system

based on family labor. The primary advantages of communal labor are:

(a) the ability to expand farm size, by bringing more land into

production, particularly if labor supply is a constraint


to size of operation.

(b) Minimal reduction in farm operations as a result of illness

or death of a family member, since work continues in

accordance with pre-established work plans.

With respect to (b) above, it is an established practice for the team

to assign additional working days to members who missed their normal

work days as a means of fulfilling previous commitment. Members of

the team are usually fed at the end of the task by the member of the

team for whom they worked.

Traditionally, the production of export crops, particularly

cocoa and coffee, was the domain of men, at least as far as the

most difficult tasks were concerned. Women were assigned the reserved

task of producing food crops, with relatively minor input into export

crops harvesting and processing. However, as food crop production

has become increasingly commercialized, an increasing proportion of

men are becoming food producers. It is estimated that in 1976, 17

percent of working age men in the Center South Province were food

crop producers [15].

Land Resource Base

According to Weber in [15], up to the end of the nineteenth

century there was no concept of land as "private property" in the

traditional agricultural system. With the introduction of cocoa,

migrant populations were more disposed to establish permanent settle-

ment, and land became man's private property. Village life further

hastened the splitting of clans into smaller semi-autonomous families,

at which point the value of land as private property, and as a major


factor of production, increased concomitantly with increases in the

population density [15].

There are a variety of methods by which land is obtained for

farming. For the most part, however, land is inherited. In other

cases, land is either bought, rented, or granted on a temporary

basis to third parties for the cultivation of annual crops. In

the areas selected for study, data were not available on land owner-

ship patterns. However, a 1973 study conducted by Ongla [43] in

the Yemessoa area in the L6kie Division, reveals that 66.3 percent

of the land in that area was inherited, 1.6 percent rented, 4.1

percent purchased, and 28.0 percent granted on a temporary basis.

According to these estimates, very little land is obtained through

commercial channels. Those who do not have land resort to temporary

authorizations from others to cultivate their land. In this particular

case, the owners of the land usually grant, free of charge and for a

limited period of time, a plot of land to third parties, with the

understanding that the land would be used exclusively for annual

crops [43]-

The parcels of land which are inherited are those from the

father who has died or from a maternal or paternal uncle or from

a brother who has died. The general trend is one of decreasing size

of inherited parcels of land, largely as a result of increases in

the number of relatives receiving inherited land. In light of this

trend, natural increases in the average size of small farm holdings

appears a remote possibility in the absence of land consolidation

efforts. Another consequence is that young people of working age

become land owners only after their parents' death. Thus, they may


prefer to migrate while their parents are still alive; probably with

the intention of returning to the village after the death of their

parents. As is generally the case, however, many fail to return to

the villages and to farming, because of superior employment opportuni-

ties in urban areas.

Farming Techniques and Practices

Single crop production of food crops is a recent production

practice in the study area and in Cameroon in general. The dominant

practice is multiple-cropping and/or associated cropping. An emerging

trend is the practice of allocating different tracts of land from the

total land holdings to single-crop and associated crop enterprises.

The size, number and combinations of crop enterprises tend to be a

function of the particular family structure. Whereas a polygamist

establishes as many farms as the number of wives he has, a monogamist

usually creates a single farm for his wife for each farming season.

However, a woman may in reality, cultivate more than one farm per


In general, there are two farming (cropping) seasons in the

study areas. The first (and main) cropping season comes in the

first half of the year while the second cropping season falls in

the second half of the year. As a general rule, the first cropping

season is more favorable for production purposes. It should be

noted, however, that whether or not farm holdings are of the single

or multiple-crop types, the season for their establishment is the

same. The practice of single-crop farms is done with such crops as

tomatoes, cassava, cocoyams, yams, groundnuts, maize and plantains.


With the exception of tomatoes, farming operations for the other

farm lands are to all intent and purposes identical to those of

multiple-crop farms.

A series of techniques and practices have been established for

bringing land under cultivation. The first step involves the

clearing and felling of trees between mid-December and late February

during which period the cleared grass and felled trees are allowed

to dry. The second step is initiated prior to the start of the

short rainy season (mid-March to early June), when the first burning

is initiated and the field cleaned. Third, when sufficient rain has

fallen to permit germination, the fields are tilled and the first

seeds planted. Generally, because of their short production cycle,

groundnuts and maize are planted first; although there are reports

[15] of plantain being planted the first year and groundnuts and

maize during the second year. Finally, tuberous crops are planted

after groundnuts and maize. All land clearing and cultivation

activities are performed with hand labor and rudimentary hand tools.

Shifting cultivation is the farming technique used to regenerate

soil fertility. This production practice can be viewed as a com-

pensatory system to adjust for a lack of chemical fertilizer inputs

and general soil infertility. Under this system, farmers return to

their abandoned farming site at intervals of 2 to 7 years [43], although

there have been reports of rotation cycles as long as 12 to 15 years

[15]. The duration of the cycle is highly dependent on the population

density of the area concerned. The shorter cycle reported by Ongla

[43], is for the highly populous areas of Lekid, where the population

density was between 100 and 150 inhabitants per square kilometer.


As noted earlier, communal labor permits some increases in the

size of farming operations. However, the relatively primitive farming

techniques and the exclusive use of traditional inputs, act as

effective constraints to expansion in the average size of farm operations.

There are no estimates of the average size of farm holdings. However,

in terms of resource management, it has been estimated that a single

farmer can manage between 1500 and 2000 square meters per annum [15].

Table 18 shows estimates of the time requirement for selected pro-

duction activities by seasons, in the Center South Province. The

estimates are based on an average of 0.25 hectares for the two cropping

seasons, and five work hours per day. Operations not included in the

estimates are the clearing and felling of trees, and burning [15, p. 29].

Consumption Patterns of Study Areas

There is great variability in the.nature and origin of the

principal foodstuffs consumed in the study areas. A 1966 report

[52, PP. 33-50], estimated that 78 different food items were found in

these areas. In general, however, daily food intakes consist of a

few staple food items.

Maize is the main cereal of the area, and is consumed boiled,

grilled, or in the form of a paste obtained from crushed grains.

Cassava and plantain are the two staple starchy crops consumed in

the region. Cassava is cultivated widely throughout the area and is

consumed in the form of boiled tubers, farina, or as cassava sticks.

Plantain is produced throughout the year and is harvested in the unripe

stage and consumed cooked, crushed or fried when ripe. Vegetable

consumption is primarily from legumes and groundnuts. Fats and oils

are derived primarily from palm oil and fruits.


Table 18.--Time requirement for selected seasonal production
activities, Center South Province

Farming operations Total
1st season 2nd season
(January-June) (July-December)


Tilling and
planting 4 4 8

Weeding I 3 3

Weeding II 3 3

Harvesting-b/ 3 3 6

Total 13 7 20

-/Estimates are based on 0.25 hectares and five work hours per day.

-/Harvesting does take place during the first half of the year for
such crops as tomatoes, groundnuts and maize when their planting
takes place in March or earlier. However, for crops such as yams,
cocoyams and cassava, harvesting does not occur until later in the

Source: [15, p. 29].

On the average, 1.3 meals are prepared per day [52]. Meals are

prepared by females and may involve up to two meals per day. However,

whether or not the family resides in the city or in the farm area,

one full meal is prepared on a daily basis. The meal preparation

activities of females are organized to accommodate their labor

activities. Table 19 shows estimates of daily meal preparation for

selected locations in areas included in the study. It should be

noted, however, that the number of the meals prepared daily does not


Table 19.--Average number of meals prepared per day, selected

Ist period 2nd period 3rd period Average
Locations (Aug.-Nov.) (Dec.-March) (April-July)

Akonolinga 1.4 1.2 1.3 1.3

Obala 1.1 0.9 1.0 1.0

Yaounde 1.2 1.3 1.2 1.2

Ebolowa 1.7 1.6 1.8 1.7

Average all
locations 1.3 1.2 1.3 1.3

-This information was collected during the 1965 food consumption
survey [61] at three distinct periods, August-November, December-
March, and April-July. Each period lasted 4 months.

Source: [52, p. 37].

necessarily correspond to the number of meals actually consumed.

This is likely to be the case for a number of reasons. First,

portions of meals prepared one day can be carried over to subsequent

days. Second, a family might receive gifts in the form of meals

from relatives and friends, which would make the preparation of a

daily meal unnecessary.

Table 20 shows estimates of per person daily food intake for

selected food categories and items in the cocoa zone of the Center

South Province. This zone encompasses the three study areas. Recall

that cassava and plantains are the two most important staple food

crops consumed in the study areas. According to Table 20, tubers

and plantains represent only 16 percent of the total value of the

daily food intake. However, in quantity weights they account for


Table 20.--Estimated daily food intake per person, selected food
groups, cocoa zone, Center South Province, 1965

Value composition
Food groups/ Intake
food items quantity Calories Proportion of
Cost total value

Grams CFA Frs. Percent

Cereals: 53 44 1.9 5.0
Maize 44 --
Other 9 -- -
Tubers: 615 612 3.0 8.0
Cassava 493 -
Cocoyam 89 --
Other 33
Palm Oil 23 2-6 1.9 5.0
Meat and Fish 66 79 11.7 31.0
Vegetables 257 139 2.7 7.0
Fruits: 593 416 4.2 11.0

Plantain 493 249 3.0 8.0
Other 100 167 1.2 3.0
Nuts and Seeds 77 241 3.8 10.0
Beverages 358 -- 8.4 22.0
Other 13 118 0.4 1.0

Total all
categories 2,055 1,855 38.0 100.0

Source: Adapted from [52, pp. 57 and 129].

more than 50 percent of total intake.

the two, the three groups account for

daily ration. A major characteristic

90 percent of total consumption comes

When groundnuts are added to

26 percent of the value of the

of these products is that over

from home-supplies [52]. This


means that the bulk of food purchases in the study areas are for other

food items such as meats and fish, salt, and beverages.

The expenditure patterns of rural households have undergone

significant changes over the last decade. They have increased their

participation in the money economy, placed increased emphasis on

investment in their children's education and placed increased emphasis

on home improvement.

Supply Areas and Yaounde Trade Center

Yaound6 as the national capital and major trade center of the

Center South region has a dynamic economic and population base. In

1956 the city's population was estimated at 111,000. According to

the 1976 census, the city's population was 300,000, which means that

the population almost tripled in just over a decade. Furthermore, the

city's population is projected to be twice the 1976 figures by 1985

(Table 21). The resident population is estimated to be increasing

by 25,000 persons annually [15].

Yaound6 has evolved into a cosmopolitan city in terms of the

ethnic composition of its population. Its public and private sectors

offer rapidly expanding employment opportunities for migrants from

surrounding rural areas, other regions of the country and neighboring

African countries. Also, the fact that it contains a number of

prestigious secondary schools, higher education facilities, and the

federal University of Yaounde, has tended to accelerate the movement

of people into the city. For these and other factors discussed in an

earlier section of this report, a relatively large proportion of the


Table 21.--Estimated population, Yaounde, selected periods 1965-1976
and projections for 1980 and 1985

Year Population estimates


1965 111,000

1967 151,200

1970 170,000

1973 225,000

1975 262,000

1976 300,000

1980 396,000

1985 598,000

Source: Extracted from [15, Annex I, p. 1]

city's population are in the younger age categories.

The dynamic structure of the city's economic base has presented

a number of problems for city and national planners. One such

problem is the provision of an adequate and continuous food supply,

at reasonable prices, for city residents. In reality, Yaound6 has

become a food deficit area, while much of the surrounding rural areas

are food surplus areas. As a result, the average retail price of the

major food crops are considerably higher in Yaound6 (Table 3). Since

food is a major wage good, the relatively high urban food prices are

acting as fuel for general price inflation in the country as a whole.

Table 22 shows demand projections for selected foodstuffs in

the city of Yaounde for 1980/81 and 1985/86, compared to 1972/73

Table 22.--Projections of demands for selected foodstuffs in Yaound6 to 1980/81 and 1985/86 and comparisons
to 1972/73 and 1975/76A/

Per capital consumption Total consumption Percent annual rate of
Selected increase 1972/73-
foodstuffs 1972/73 1975/76 1980/81 1985/86 1972/73 1975/76 1980/81 1985/86 1985/86

-------Grams/day----------- ------Metric tons/day-------

Maize(grains) 68 70 75 80 5,585 7,400 12,000 19,000 9.8
Rice 33 40 50 60 2,700 4,230 8,000 14,000 13.6
Plantain 550 530 510 490 45,150 56,100 81,900 116,250 7.5
Cassava(tubers) 517 500 490 480 42,450 52,900 78,700 113,900 7.9
Cocoyams 185 180 170 160 15,300 19,000 27,300 38,000 7.2
Yams 15 17 20 22 1,320 1,800 3,200 5,200 .11.8
Groundnuts 58 60 62 65 4,750 6,350 9,940 15,400 9.5

a/Population figures used are: 225,000 in 1972/73,
650,000 in 1985/86.

290,000 in 1975/76, 440,000 in 1980/81, and

Source: Extracted from [15, Table 1, in Appendix II, p. 2].


and 1975/76. The projections incorporate qualitative changes in

the diet of the city's population by 1985/86, with 1965 [15] used as

the base period for dietary standards. It should be noted that even

with adjustments made for qualitative changes in the basic diet, the

total quantity of foodstuff in demand by the city of Yaounde in

1985/86, will be 2.8 times the amount demanded in 1972/73. But the

highest rates of increase in demand will be for rice, yams, maize

(grains), and groundnuts. The lowest will be for plantain, cassava

and cocoyams. The projected demand assumes constant price relation-

ships among commodities [15].

The assumptions underlying projected changes in the composition

of residents' diet appear realistic, in the sense that consumption

habits usually change to favor cereals such as maize and rice, high

protein foods (meat and fish), and to the prejudice of tubers. The

latter are not only difficult to transport, but also difficult to

store because of highly perishable characteristics [11, 19, 54]. In.

light of these projections, the food supply areas adjacent to Yaoundd

will be hard pressed to meet the increased food demand of the city's

population. Also, of equal importance, the marketing system will be

severely taxed to provide effective linkages between food producers

and urban consumers.

Conceptual Framework

Market.structure theory is used as the basic conceptual framework

for evaluating the food crop marketing system in Yaound6 and adjacent

areas. The use of this particular approach is rationalized on the

appropriateness of the model, as discussed by Mueller [36], for meeting


the stated objectives of the study. Mueller argues that this

approach is superior to alternative theories, when primary consideration

is being given to factors such-as market and bargaining power, price

discrimination and predatory practices, vertical integration and

contract farming.10/ Familiarity with the general characteristics

of the marketing system and the development goals of Cameroon,

supported the.use of this approach.

A general objective of the study is to provide an understanding

of the extent to which the existing food crop marketing system in

Yaounde and vicinities satisfies consumers' needs at "reasonable"

prices. An important component of this objective is identification

of existing inefficiencies in the system, pinpointing their major

correlates, and proposal of a series of policy recommendations designed

to improve overall food market performance. An implicit assumption

of the study is that improved performance of the regional food

marketing system is a vital component of area and national agricultural


Price theory suggests that between monopolistic, oligopolistic,

and monopolistic competition and the purely competitive models, the

latter is the system under which the welfare of the entire population

is maximized. In this regard, the study applies market inefficiency

standards in terms of the requirements of the competitive model.-l/

0/Some of the alternative approaches include, demand analysis,
plant operational efficiency, and operations research, to name a few.

-1/In essence the study assumes a purely competitive market operation.
To the extent that the market deviates from this model, the findings
are likely to have some limitations.


In applying such a standard the study can only draw inference as to

the "relative inefficiency" of the marketing system, since according

to Jones [20] the competitive model cannot help in measuring the "cost"

of imperfections in the market place.

The standard conceptual model used in market structure theory is

that developed by Bain [2]. Following in the Bain tradition, Mueller

[36] contends that market structure theories are pregnant with pre-

dictive relationship between market structure, conduct, and performance.

He further argues that significant relationships between these variables

have been verified empirically, but that much more reliable knowledge

is needed if we are to have sound public policy through indirect action.

Market Structure Theory

Market structure refers to the physical dimensions of the market-

ing system. Specifically, reference is made to the degree of market

concentration (i.e., the number of firms and/or plants in the market

and their distribution by size or other measures of concentration),

the degree of product differentiation and the conditions of entry in

the market. It is argued that, singularly or in combination, these

characteristics strategically influence the nature of competition and

pricing within the market [2].

A good study of market structure using all or most of the above

criteria, usually requires data related to demographic and physical

characteristics of the marketing outlets. Such data are then combined

to derive measures of market concentration, the degree of product

differentiation, and the conditions of entry and exit. In the present

study, the lack of a comprehensive and sophisticated statistical base

precluded the use of all of the traditional market structure criteria.


As an alternative, the study utilizes a set of selected market structure

criteria, rather than the full complement of criteria generally used

in studies dealing with developed economies. These selected criteria

are based on information obtained from the most reliable data sources,

which are in turn supplemented by information obtained first-hand

through sample survey procedures.

Market Conduct Theory

Market conduct refers to the patterns of behavior of market

participants in adjusting and adapting to the market in which they

participate [2]. Specifically, market conduct is identified by the

principles, methods and resultant actions employed by enterprises in

establishing their products prices (individually and collectively),

and by the mechanism or process of interaction and coordination of

the competing sellers' policies.

In this study, market conduct is approached from the points of

view of supply practices, communication, and association between

the various marketing agents. The primary data base for evaluating

these components are the sample survey responses.

Market Performance Theory

Market performance refers to the attributes of the marketing

machinery or, in this case, to production and exchange of foodstuffs,

which directly influences the welfare of the participants and the

society. A number of criteria have been used in the literature to

evaluate market performance. Kreps and Wright [10, p. 81] recommend

that the social performance of industries and firms be measured by:

(a) employment (b) production (c) consumer effort commanded (d) con-

sumer funds absorbed (e) payrolls, and (f) dividends and interests.


The.more general approach, however, rejects these criteria on the

grounds that firms will and should respond to their individual

opportunities and restraints; and market performance refers to the

economic end results of market adjustments engaged in by buyers and

sellers. In this regard, Bain in [10, p. 82] writes:

In general, it is not appropriate to measure the market
performance of an enterprise or industry in such terms
as its contribution. .to total employment in the
economy, the total output of goods, or the stability
over time of either. This is because (in the case of
sellers, for example) the essential limits of the
performance of enterprises within a capitalist economy
are those of adjusting to whatever effective demands
are present for their outputs, with the restriction
that in so adjusting they must as a group at least

Following the Bain tradition, the more widely accepted per-

formance criteria focuses on the following aspects of market performance:

production efficiency, technological progressiveness, product suit-

ability, profit rates, level of output, exchange efficiency, costs of

sales promotion, unethical practices, participant rationality, con-

servation, external effects and labor relations [10, 18, 50, 51]. In

spite of the probability of being highly significant, many of these

traditional performance criteria represent issues which, for a number

of reasons, cannot be addressed in a single study. Reasons might

include data constraint, time and resource constraint, and selective

priority ranking of relative importance. In this study a combination

of these constraints are responsible for the limitation of the per-

formance criteria utilized.

The focal point of the market performance evaluation was dictated

on one hand by the need to address specific market organization issues,

and on the other hand, by the extent to which the study's objectives


address these issues. In light of this consideration the focal point

of performance consideration revolves around the concept of market

exchange efficiency. Specifically, the primary question has to do

with how well the quantity available from current or past production

in food surplus areas ends up in the hands of consumers in food

deficit areas. An implicit assumption of the approach to market

organization is that the welfare of people is significantly affected

by the final results of the marketing operation. Some of the important

final results are: (a) the quantity of goods sold or bought (depending

on whether the agent is a seller or a buyer), (b) the average price

(since it is a major determinant of revenue and/or cost to the seller

or buyer),(c) price dispersion or convergence, (d) distribution of

marketing margins among market participants, and (e) the amount of

transfer costs incurred.

As stated earlier, the study utilize the purely competitive

model as a conceptual standard of market perfection. In such a

model, the pricing mechanism is the primary transmitter of signals

regarding time, place, form and quantity of goods available. As such,

the price mechanism is the major factor guiding decision-making

relating to buying and selling activities. On this aspect Kohls

[21, p. 122] writes:

To some firms high and rising prices mean increased
profits and more incentive to "go ahead." They also
mean "slow down" or perhaps do without to some consumers.
The opposite directions would result from low or falling
prices. Briefly then, fluctuating competitive prices
have the following three major jobs to perform:
1. They are to guide and regulate production
2. They are to guide and regulate consumption
3. They are to guide and regulate the distribution
of goods both over a period of time and from
place to place.


Within the context of the preceding conceptual framework, the

following criteria of exchange efficiency performance are used: (a)

prices and margins, (b) seasonal price relationships and seasonal

adjustment of price change, and (c) price integration among markets.

Operational Framework

This section discusses how the concepts of structure, conduct

and performance are operationalized for empirical analysis. In

addition, it discusses the nature, scope and source of data and the

choice and rationale for the products selected for study.

Market Structure Operationalized

Empirical analysis of market structure is based on objective

characterization and quantification, when possible, of the institu-

tional components of the study areas' food marketing chain. A two

step sequence is used, in which the urban food distribution system

is studied first, both at the retail and wholesale levels, and then

the rural marketing system is analyzed. It is assumed that there

are three basic stages in the marketing system--production, whole-

saling and retailing. Evaluation involves identifying and describing

the various types of retailers, wholesalers, and producers. Analysis

include such information as the number of owners or managers, employees

per unit, and the types and quantities of goods sold. For retailers

and wholesalers, data relating to demographic characteristics are

obtained from sample survey questionnaires conducted in market

centers. In the case of producers, demographic data are extracted

from the 1972/73 agricultural census [29]. Demographic data on

wholesalers and retailers include such factors as the level of


literacy, number of dependents and experience on the job, to name a

few. For food producers, analysis focuses on the number of people of

working age living on the farm, total number of people living on the

farm, and the age of the head farmer.

Sample survey data are used to evaluate elements of market

concentration. Data utilized on this aspect would include, among

other things, business ownership of marketing agents, employment status,

and the location and nature of products handled. Market entry and

exit conditions are evaluated based on the market agents' responses

regarding the possibility of their selling at other markets. Speci-

fically, an entry ratio is developed based on survey results. For

producers, an exit ratio is also developed. Finally, product differ-

entiation is examined from the point of view of market integration

(vertical and horizontal), based on the location of retail outlets

and the nature of products handled (processed and/or semi-processed

and/or raw).

Market Conduct Operationalized

Market conduct is evaluated on the basis of objective character-

ization of the behavior of the market participants. Specifically,

attention is focused on dimensions of supply practices, market

intelligence (communication), and marketing associations.

Supply practices are evaluated by survey data regarding the

origin of retailers' supplies, persons responsible for their transpor-

tation, types of transport used, and the relationship between buyer

and seller of the foodstuffs.

Communication and associations between the various market parti-

cipants are evaluated by means of survey data. Such information would


include, among other things, the form and character of market infor-

mation flows and the percentage of the participants who belong to a

trade association. Finally, food traders' opinions on a number of

issues are examined.

Market Performance Operationalized

The identification of marketing problems intuitively suggests

that there might be bottlenecks in the marketing system, and that

these bottlenecks are disrupting the operation of the system.

Evidence of malfunctioning, in turn, implies some standard or level

of market performance. As mentioned earlier, several measures of

market performance have been proposed. However, selection of any

particular measure rests, in large part, on the purpose for which the

evaluation is being made. In this study, the emphasis is placed on

the improvement of the welfare of the entire society. Within this

context, the decision was made to evaluate this component on the

basis of: (a) prices and margins, (b) seasonal price variations

(c) seasonal adjustment of price change, and (d) price integration

among markets in the trade center area. The empirical models for

these components are discussed below.

Prices and margins

The prices of most foodstuffs included in this study exhibit

significant inter- and intra-temporal variability in both city and

farm area markets. Atomistic competition among buyers and sellers

would, in the aggregate, preclude any single seller or buyer from

influencing prices., However, within the limits of any single market


and/or time period, the price of foodstuffs tends to vary in direct

proportion to the relative bargaining.strength of buyers and sellers.

In general, however, the superior bargaining position of buyers

strongly suggests that the pricing system tends to favor the consumer.

This characteristic is.directly related to the highly perishable

nature of foodstuffs and the lack of storage facilities. Within any

given market day, there are usually a relatively large number of

buyers and sellers actively engaged in trade in the forenoon. The

trading tempo declines rapidly in the afternoon, when the quality

of products is lower. During the latter period, there is a relatively

large number of sellers and relatively few buyers. Sellers are thus

forced to drastically reduce their prices, in order to move their

products or risk the loss of a sizable portion of their products.

Data from a 1975 survey in nine public markets in Yaound6 are used

to assess price variations among similar commodities.

The principle behind the concept of marketing margins is that

each marketing activity has a cost, since it requires resources to

add utility to the final good. In this study, the two measures used

to evaluate market performance are: (a) the farmer's share of the

consumer's food expenditures and (b) the gross marketing margin.

When used in combination, these measures can be powerful indicators

of the nature of services provided by the marketing system.

Marketing margin may be low because marketing activities are being

carried out at low cost. However, margin may also be low because

the marketing system is providing a low level of services. An

examination of the components of the gross marketing margin will

reveal the number of services being performed by the marketing system.


Data collected by the Food Development Authority in 1976 are used

for this aspect of the study.

Seasonal price variations

Under the regimes of perfect competition, the price of a storable

commodity at one point in time should not exceed price in a previous

period of time by more than the cost of storage [14]. A common

approach to the study of seasonal price relationships for agricultural

products involves a comparison of observed price movements with the

cost of storage [21]. However, the cost of storage can only be used

with confidence when: (a) it is readily measurable and (b) when it

is the single most important factor influencing storage decisions.

In reality, a number of other factors influence storage decisions.

Some of the more important [14] are: (a) time of the harvest of each

crop in relation to harvest of other crops, (b) importance of the

subsistence component of each crop, (c) timing of the need for cash

by producers, (d) time and importance of cash income from other,

non-staple food products, and from secondary occupations, and (e)

expectation and timing of the new harvest.

Survey results indicate that storage of food crops entering the market

is virtually nonexistent in the supply areas. In light of this finding,

relative price movements in Yaounde markets were analyzed, and correlation

between harvest periods and price movements analyzed. Analytical

procedures involve: (a) the development of an index of price vari-

ations for each crop, (b) finding the highest and lowest points of

the indices, and (c) determining the different harvest periods and

comparing these with the high and low points of the price variation

indices. Thus, seasonal variations are measured by calculating


numerical price indices of selected commodities.

Seasonal price variability is estimated by a mixed operational

model adapted from the one presented by Italy's Instituto Centrale

di Statistica [45, p. 234]. The adapted model is specified in

mathematical form as:

Yt = xtS + et (1)


Yt = the observed price in month t,

xt = the trend component in month t,

St = the seasonal component in month t,

et = the residual random component in month t,

t = 1 (in January 1968), ., 104 (in August 1976).

The first step is to estimate the trend component. Taking

Y1' Y2' t' t Yn as the sequence of the average monthly

prices for the various years, starting from Y1 for January 1968, the

first step is to calculate those moving averages which, for

convenience, may be termed primary:
1 t+6
Yt,t+l 12- E Yt (2)

The two indices on the left-hand side of equation (2) are to

show that, as the summation of the right-hand side covers an equal

number of terms, the averages concerned are not centered in a given

month, but fall within the interval between the sixth and seventh

month of the sequence to which they refer. Thus, the first primary

average that can be calculated refers to the sequence of the first

12 average monthly prices, beginning with Y1 for January 1968 and

terminating with Y12 for December 1968. It may be written:

1 12
Y6,7 = T2 t Yt

In the second primary average, which can be written:
S1 13
1 E3 Yt
Y7,8 12 t t

the summation extends from February 1968 to January 1969, and so on.

In order to center the primary averages, and arrive at a precise

correspondence with single months, the arithmetic means of successive

pairs of these primary averages are calculated, and the new averages

can be written:
1 1 1 t+5 t+6
t = 2 t-l,t + t, t+l) = j7 6( E t t+ Yt) (3)

The average Yt is assigned the central month of the two over-

lapping sequences of average monthly prices in equation (3). So, if

both primary averages are calculated from 12 observations, starting

in January and February 1968, respectively, the central month is

July 1968, and Y7 can be written:
1 1 1 12 13
27 = 6 (,7 7,8 2 12 t t 2 t)

The twelve month centered moving averages thus calculated are

measures of the trend component of the temporal series. Using the

original values of the series, and dividing by corresponding secondary

averages, the seasonality ratios are obtained and can be expressed


St Yt (4)
S t xt

Bearing in mind equation (1), and dividing both sides of this

equation by xt, we have:

Yt = S + (5)
xt Xt

However, since yt = -, the seasonal price component can be

specified as:

t = St + t (5)'

As specified in equation (5)', however, the seasonal price

component is influenced by the stochastic term ct. This stochastic
term becomes negligible, if we assume that successive observations

for the same month are normally distributed with a mean of zero and

a constant variance [41, p. 239]. Hence, by computing a mean of

seasonality ratios for any one month over the number of years involved,

the stochastic term of equation (5)' becomes practically negligible,

and the seasonal component for a given month is given by:
1 k 1 k
Yt = k Yt k= E St (6)

The numerical values thus obtained for the different months are

then used to calculate seasonality coefficients, after appropriate

proportional correction ensures that their average is 100. These

seasonality coefficients, as specified in [45, p. 243], yield some

interesting information on the structure of the coefficients for the

different months of the year, and the trend of the coefficients them-

selves during different years. In this study, however, these coeffi-

cients are used to study: (a) price variation for different months

or quarters of the year, and (b) the relationship between price and

pre- and post-harvest periods. A high correlation would exist when

the low points of the seasonal price indices coincide with the post-

harvest period, or when high points coincide with the pre-harvest



Seasonal adjustment of price change

It has long been recognized that the seasonal factor in agricul-

tural output is important, with grains, fruits and vegetables harvested

only during certain periods of the year. This characteristic is

reflected in transportation and sales in rural areas, and in product

prices in consumption centers varying in direct proportion with the

volume of harvests. Comparing storage costs to average monthly

percentage increase in the seasonal price index, or correlating price

movements to the timing of harvest periods, are standard procedures

used to evaluate annual movements. Seasonal adjustment, on the other

hand, does provide more precise information on the timing and magni-

tude of intra-year changes for a range of months.

A number of alternative procedures are available for estimating

seasonal price adjustments. However, by far the most widely used

procedure is "moving average," based on time series price and quantity

data [45]. This study uses a similar estimating procedure. However,

the time series data are for prices and not quantities, since there

are no annual estimates of the quantities of foodstuffs consumed in

the Yaounde area. The time series data are handled through standard

regression analysis, with the observed price as the dependent variable.

Ideally, the explanatory power of the model would be greatly improved

by use of a quantity time series data base, since in the real-world

it is quantity that impacts prices rather than the reverse. It is

felt, however, that price-based time series data, if handled properly,

can provide valuable insights into the appropriate timing sequence

of activities of sellers and assemblers, as a means of offsetting

sharp price increases.


The principal advantage of the regression method is its flexi-

bility. It permits measurement of seasonal changes which remain

constant regardless of the level of the series, as well as seasonal

changes that vary with the level of the series. As such, it has an

operational advantage, in that seasonal price fluctuations can be

related to the causal forces, and direct allowance can be made

for such factors as the level of inventories, among other things.

An OECD report [45, p. 49] proposes five alternative regression

models for estimating seasonal adjustments. Each model comprises an

equation estimating seasonal variation, and an equation estimating

the seasonally-adjusted values of the seasonal factor. The five

models differ with respect to the length of the functional form and/or

definition of the seasonally-adjusted values of the seasonal factor.

In reality, there are only three estimating equations:

Yij = a + b Xij + ij (7)

Yij = a + b Xij + c Tij + ij (8)

and Yij = a + b Xij + c Tij + dXij Tij + Cij (9)

and three equations defining the seasonally-adjusted price:

Sij = (Yij E) + Xij (10)

S.. = (ij + X. (11)
(b + dTij)

Sij = ij E + Xij (12)
3 b 13
In the above equations, the mathematical variables are defined


Yij = the observed average monthly price,

YE = the estimated value of the seasonal factor price,


Xij = the 15-month moving average value estimating the cycle


Tij = time,

i = month (1-12),

j = year (1968-1976),

E.. = the error term,

Sij = the seasonally-adjusted value.

The five OECD models can thus be identified as:

(a) Model I: equations (7) and (10)

(b) Model II: equations (7) and (12)

(c) Model III:equations (9) and (10)

(d) Model IV: equations (9) and (11)

(e) Model V: equations (8) and (10).

Models I and II differ only in the definition of the seasonally-

adjusted values (Sij's). Otherwise, both postulate that the observed

average monthly prices are a function of the 15-month moving average

price and make no allowance for additive or multiplicative seasonality.

Mathematically, these two postulates can be stated as:

(a + c Tij) in additive seasonality

(b + d Tij) = multiplicative seasonality

Operationally, however, in model I, Sij = (Yij YE) + Xij,

can only be used if the cycle trend, Xij, is known. In cases where

Xij is not known, then Sij is calculated using model II. In such


Si = J YE + X.. (12)
Sij = 13

Replacing YE by a+bXij in (13), and placing the right-hand side


under the same denominator, b, we obtain,

= Yi a-bX. bXi
b b

Y. a
S.. = 13-
ij b

Models III and IV use

in the definition of Sij.

seasonal relationship, and

and Xi = (Yij-YE) + Xij.

calculated using model IV.


the same estimating equation, but differ

If equation (9) is used to estimate the

if Xij is known, then model III is used,

However, if Xij is not known, Sij is

In such a case,

S.. = i E) + Xij
(b + d Tij)


Replacing YE by a+bXij + cTij + dXijTij in equation (9), we obtain,

Sij = Yij a bXij cTij dXij Tij + ij (14)
(b + d Tij)

Finally, model V allows only for additive seasonality as

specified earlier.

In this study, equations (7), (8) and (9) are estimated and

the one that best explains the variations in the average monthly

price data is selected and used to estimate the seasonally-adjusted


From the above

to obtain estimates

line is estimated.

value (Xij) and the

this method is that

discussion, it can be seen that it is possible

of seasonally-adjusted prices, once the regression

This is accomplished by adding the cycle-trend

irregular value (Yij YE). The advantage of

the irregular factor is not adjusted for


seasonality, as is the case in the more conventional method, when

the original observations are divided-by the seasonal factor to

obtain seasonally-adjusted series.12/

If more parameters are added to improve the adjustment for

moving seasonality, the seasonally-adjusted series would get closer

to the trend-cycle values specified as independent variables. The

problem is, however, that this often results in serious loss of

degrees of freedom,.because of the shortness of most series [45].

Price integration among markets

A marketing system performs its coordinating role efficiently

when market information is transmitted so that sellers and buyers

know where to go to get satisfaction for their products or their

expenditures. Of particular importance to market participants are

inter-market price relationships and transportation costs. However,

with the exception of rice, there are no standard weights and measures

used in the traditional marketing of the foodstuffs included in this

study. As a result, market participants are likely to have general

knowledge of the transportation cost associated with moving products

from supply areas to the market center, but are unlikely to have

knowledge of specific quantities of products moved. This fact is one

-2/Burns, in [45, p. 134], who first pointed out this feature of
the conventional method, also showed that the seasonal factors
computed by the ratio-to-moving average method could be used to
seasonally adjust a series without adjusting the irregular factor.
The Burns method postulates that O=CS+I, while the conventional
method postulates that O=CSI, where O=original data, C=trend-cycle
component, S=seasonal component, and I=irregular factor.


of the major reasons why the questionnaire used in the 1975 surveys in

Yaounde markets did not provide estimates of transportation costs that

could be drawn upon in this study.

Jones [18, pp. 105-121] examines the extent of price integration

among markets in Nigeria for individual commodities. His approach

consisted primarily of estimation of bivariate correlation coeffi-

cients of reported prices, for each commodity, in every pair of

markets for which a usable price series was available. This approach

is also used by Lele [23] in her rice marketing study in India.

The underlying assumption of this approach is that the larger the

coefficient, the more integrated the marketing system for individual


As indicated above, price data are derived from a 1975 survey

of nine markets in the Yaounde trade center area. This particular

survey covered the period January to December, 1975. Following the

procedure used by Jones [18], with the 1975 survey as the data base,

the study applies bivariate correlation analysis to market pairs,

according to the commodities studies.

Letting (X,Y) be the bivariate normal distribution, and (Xl,Y1),

(X2Y2), (X12, Y12) be the random sample drawn from the

bivariate normal distribution. A test can be made for independence

between the two distributions by calculating the coefficient of

correlation, p, and testing that it is equal to zero. The estimator

of p is i, which is calculated by the formula:

S= (X X) (Yi Y)

12 2 2
E (X1 X) (Y Y) (15)


or equivalently,

12 12 12
n E X. Y.- E X Y (16)
i=1 l 1 i=l i=l

r 12 2 n 12 y 12 2
n 1 Xi (iE Xi) n Y2 (1 Yi)
i=l i-1 1 L=

Given p estimator of p, a test of hypothesis regarding 0 is

possible. Even though the probability distribution of p is difficult

to obtain, an appropriate test for small samples can still be made.

This is related to the fact that approximately, p is normally

distributed, with the standard deviation Sr, defined as:

Sr = (1-p2) / (n-2) (17)

where, p is the coefficient found in the sample of size n. There-

fore, the test can be applied for:

Ho: p Po = 0, using a test, in which, t = p-p

or t = p-0 or t = p (18)

(1-p2) / (n-2) sr

The null hypothesis states that X and Y are independent, i.e.,

p=0 for the bivariate normal distribution (X,Y). If the calculated

value of t lies in the rejection region,

tc > t., n-2

where, a is the significance level and n-2 the number of degrees of

freedom, then the evidence will be enough to support the contention

that the series of prices X and Y in the two markets are dependent.

A high correlation coefficient then means high consistency of the

price movements in the two markets, while a weak correlation would

mean a weak consistency.


In the absence of a formal market intelligence system in the

Yaounde area, these comparative correlation coefficients are used

to evaluate the degree of market integration resulting from private
and traditional information systems.-


This section presents the empirical results of a survey of food

traders, i.e., those who derive their livelihood from buying and

selling foodstuffs, and who are generally referred to in development

literature as "higglers." In Cameroon, however, these entrepreneurs

are generally known as "buyem-sellems." Food trader findings are

combined with the findings of a survey of food producers and together

are used to (a) describe the urban-rural food distribution system

and (b) evaluate factors which tend to prevent the marketing system

from making a larger contribution to regional or national development.

Empirical analysis of market structure and conduct attains

significance only when it is evaluated within the context of the

unique characteristics of the system in question. With this in

mind, a brief overview of the system is presented prior to presenting

findings relative to these components.

General Overview of Structure and Conduct

Organization of the Marketing System

Foodstuff distribution is dominated by the traditional marketing

-Using only Yaound6 markets in this analysis reduces the influence
of such factors as the indirect link between two markets, distance
between markets, location of deficit and surplus areas and even
errors in data collection, all of which have been said to weaken
the correlation coefficient.


system. There exists, however, a more"moderr' food marketing sub-

system which, so far, has tended to coexist with the more traditional

and dominant system. This system operates under the sponsorship of

the government's Food Development Authority (MIDEVIV). A basic

function of this agency is to keep the retail price of foodstuffs

in line with national target prices for food items. The agency

seeks to accomplish its objective by efforts to develop and stream-
line food marketing outlets.-- Although the agency handles most of

the commodities included in the study, its marketing outlets were

excluded from the food traders survey. This was done because, at

the time of the surveys, consumers appeared relatively uninterested

in these outlets and the total volume of commodities moving through

these outlets was relatively small. In light of these considerations,

attention is focused on the traditional food marketing system.

Analysis, however, draw on additional survey data furnished by the

Food Development Authority. These survey data are used to supplement

the survey data base relating to the urban distribution system and

the food production sector.

Product Flow and Exchange Levels

The traditional food marketing system is made up primarily of

producers, wholesalers, retailers, and the final consumers. Often

described as inefficient, costly, and disorganized, this system

nevertheless handles most of the foodstuffs marketed in Cameroon.

The working mechanisms of the Food Development Authority were
briefly discussed in the section entitled "Problem Identification."


The principal characteristic of the system is that there are

numerous intermediaries between the producer and the final consumer.

The largest group of intermediaries are the "higglers" or "buyem-

sellems." These middlemen represent an important component of the

marketing system. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few studies

such as Nsangou [41] and Diarra [8] no attempt has been made to

assess the role of this group in the foodstuffs marketing system.

Figure 5 shows the various channels and outlets associated with food-

stuff marketing in the study areas. Middlemen are active at almost

all levels in the marketing chain.

The dominant role of export crops as the principal source of

family income was discussed earlier. It was also pointed out that

customs and traditions dictated that export crop production be the

exclusive domain of males. On the other hand, food products were

considered the reserved production of women. The quantities

marketed were only occasional surpluses of family farms. In many

instances, however, marketed food products were not from family

surpluses, but were actually items taken from the family's own

food supply. In such instances these sales were necessary to meet

everyday family expenses.

Lately, however, food production has become more attractive to

men because of the falling purchasing power of export crops. Many

young males, who do not own land on which to plant perennial crops,

landlords and some owners of coffee or cocoa farms, have entered the

food production and marketing business. Food production and distri-

bution have been elevated to a new economic status as a result of

the following factors: (a) food prices are now at an all time high,


Figure 5. Foodstuffs distribution system in Yaound6 and adjacent areas

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs