Economics of food crop marketing in Central Cameroon

Material Information

Economics of food crop marketing in Central Cameroon
Series Title:
CTA report
Ongla, Jean, 1947-
Davis, C. G ( Carlton George ), 1936-
Place of Publication:
Gainesville Fla
Center for Tropical Agriculture, International Programs, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
vii, 229 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Food crops -- Economic aspects -- Cameroon ( lcsh )
Produce trade -- Cameroon ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Economic aspects -- Cameroon ( lcsh )
Farm produce -- Marketing -- Cameroon ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (p. 225-229).
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."
Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
Statement of Responsibility:
by J. Ongla and C.G. Davis.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Resource Identifier:
001958545 ( ALEPH )
36801302 ( OCLC )
AKD5165 ( NOTIS )

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 and

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













APPENDIX A: Tables Al to A20. . . . . . 204

LITERATURE CITED. . . . . . . 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 Yaound6 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. . . . . . . I . . . . 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 19651976 and projections for 1980 and 1985. . 62

22 Projections of demands for selected foodstuffs in Yaound& 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 Yaound markets. . 92

24 Demographic characteristics of food retailers and wholesalers Yaound& 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 creditrelated 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, Yaoundg
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, Yaound6 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 Yaound6 market survey of food prices: sample of
rice retailers, January-December, 1975. . . 210 A7 The Yaound6 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, Yaoundd 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 Al5 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), Yaound6 markets, January-December,
1975. . . I . . 222

A19 Correlation matrix for monthly retail prices of
plantain, Yaound& markets, January-December, 1975. . 223 A20 Correlation matrix for monthly retail prices of
maize (grains), Yaound6 markets, January-December,
1975 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224



Figure Page

1 Location of the United Republic of Cameroon 3

2 The Center South Province: Divisons and major
towns, 1973 . . . . . . . . . . . 33

3 Transportation network around Yaound6 . . . . 44 4 Farm areas where food producers were interviewed. . 45

5 Foodstuffs distribution system in Yaound6 and adjacent areas. . . . . . . . . . 88

6 Map of Yaound6 showing urban central markets and selected neighborhood and street retail markets . . 93

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

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 constraints.

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 protectorate 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, 251.

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). Geographically, Cameroon extends 1,300 kilometers between latitudes 20 and 130 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.




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Figure 1. Location of the United Republic of Cameroon


Like most less developed countries, Cameroon has a rapidly increasing 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 1.--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 agroindustrial 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 development 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 investment 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 supthese 1/
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 signi2/ Per capita 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 capita incomes was considerably higher than that of rural per capita incomes, in spite of population gains in urban areas.


ficant reduction in aggregate food production in Cameroon. However, the only available price data [351, show that food prices increased very sharply in the major consuming centers of Douala (400,000 inhabitants) and Yaoundd (300,000 inhabitants). Ten percent of the country's population is located in these two consuming centers.4 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 Yaound6 in February 1969 through 1975.

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 [431 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 Yaound6 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. A/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, for selected staple food products in Yaound4 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 4 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: [351.

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 seasonality.

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 Yaoundd 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 1.

to extending its activities to other parts of the country. Trucks were then acquired and routed to surrounding areas for direct farmgate 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 Yaoundd 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 losses.

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 Yaound6.


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 agricultureand 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 people.

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 programs.

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 predominantly 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 [431 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 L~ki6 Division. Nsangou, in examining the performance of foodstuffs marketing in this area, uses such performance variables as seasonal variation and price margins.

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' performance 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 Yaound6 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 rparketing system

in central Ca meroon 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 framework 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, wholesalers 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 Yaound6. 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 Yaound6 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 schedule.

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 Yaound6 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 7/
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 activities [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

-/ 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 pricesW

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 23.8

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 threeyear 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 IIIj 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 [321. 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 identify 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 15.35a/' 27.5p 24.27a/
Modern sector 11.70 13.3la/ 5.08 4.48Livestock
Traditional sector n.a.- 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 breakdown 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 category. 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 1973-74a/ 1974-75a/

----------------------Metric tons-----------------Millet
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 include those of the North West and South West Provinces. b/ 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 prevent the realizaton 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 [341.

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

--------------------------------------------Percent------------------------------------------Yams 6.30 13.12 0.10 1.06 28.60 33.50 8.70 7.11 27.00 43.98 29.30 -Cocoyams
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 -Sweet
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 4.0.20 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 -a/The 1974/75 figures are limited to the former East Cameroon region.

Source:. [26, 341.


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 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 agricultural and national economic structure.

Recognition of the importance of the food crop subsector notwithstanding, 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 production, 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 agricultural 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 distribution 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 seaport 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)



st MBAM.


Nania Eo a EAST
LITro RAL LEov c
KELLE iaound&
/1 AonoH 9a

NYON6 500r

: b 5an na
<) Ebolowa

or oorn


Provincial Lrn 4-s Divisional Limits

Major To4ns

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

Source: [30].


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 intermittent 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]. Population

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
Lkid 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 1l.--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

---------------------Thousands-------------------------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 MonateleEvodoula-Ngomedzap-Awae axis has between 20 and 50 inhabitants per square kilometer. The highest population concentration is found around the Bafia-Obala-Yaoundd-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 homogeneous 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 Ldkid 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 illustration 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 agricultural 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

--------------Thousands----------------------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 18.9 89.4 35.8

Forestry 2.2 10.3 4.1

Mining 0.1 0.3 0.1

Total primary
sector 21.2 100.0 40.0

Industries 6.6 63.6 12.4

Building 2.4 22.8 4.5

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 6,.5 30.2 12.2
----------------------------------------------------------Total tertiary
sector 21.5 100.0 40.4

Source: [151.


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 capita 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 productive 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 opportunities.

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 [281. 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 income.

Transportation System

Transporation 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 Province.

The railway link between Douala and Ngaound~rd 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

Class Agricultural Products

Tubers and sacchariferous plants Cassava, Cocoyam, Yam, Sugarcane

Vegetable plants Cucumber, Okra, Onion, Tomato, African Vegetables

Leguminous plants Beans, Voandzou, Groundnuts

Cereal plant Maize

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

Export crops Cocoa, Palm oil, Kola

Source: 148].


In addition, sections of the railway linking Douala to Yaound6 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-Yaound6 via Obala; Bafia-Yaound6 via Obala; Douala-Yaound6 via Ed&a; and Ebolowa-Yaound6 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 transportation 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 Yaound& 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,


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LibrevilleFigure 3. Transportation network around Yaounde'



Goura .J Ndinal Eet, Nuih alz

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LV0,re V' e 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 Yaoundd 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 ihe 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 Yaound6 and area headquarters

SVillages/Population Distance from Distance from
Division Sub-Division District
Village Population Yaoundd area headquarters

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
Kell& 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 -- -a/
a/Population estimates for the villages in the Nyong-et-Soo and Nyong-et-Kell& Divisions are for the year 1973/74 while those for the Mbam Division are for the year 1968/69.

Source: [481.


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 importance 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-Kelld 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 Yaound6-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-Kelld 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 [301. 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 90.480 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 9/
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 9/
'/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 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 equivalent 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 periods.

Customs and traditions dictate a division of labor between men and women within the farm family. Generally, the husband is responsible 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

Nyong-etSoo 2.7 51.9 5.2 48

Nyong-etKelle 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 preestablished 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 settlement, 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 ownership patterns. However, a 1973 study conducted by Ongla [43] in the Yemessoa area in the L6kid 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 opportunities 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 season.

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 compensatory 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 Likid, 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 production 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)

------------------Weeks-------------------Tilling and
planting 4 4 8

Weeding I 3 3

Weeding II 3 3

Harvestingb/ 3 3 6

Total 13 7 20

a/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 year.

Source: [15, p. 291.

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

1st 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

a/This information was collected during the 1965 food consumption survey [61] at three distinct periods, August-November, DecemberMarch, 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. When groundnuts are added to the two, the three groups account for 26 percent of the value of the daily ration. A major characteristic of these products is that over 90 percent of total consumption comes from home-supplies [321. 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 Yaound' Trade Center Relationships

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 [151.

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 Yaound4, 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 1965-197.6
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 Yaound6 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 1975/76aJ

Per capita consumption Total consumption Percent annual rate of
Selected increase 1972/73foodstuffs 1972/73 1975/76 1980/811985/86 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, 290,000 in 1975/76, 440,000 in 1980/81, and 650,000 in 1985/86.

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 relationships 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.


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.19. 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 Yaound& 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 development.

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.Li

10/Some of the alternative approaches include, demand analysis, plant operational efficiency, and operations research, to name a few. 11/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 [201 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 predictive 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 marketing 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) consumer 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 performance criteria focuses on the following aspects of market performance: production efficiency, technological progressiveness, product suitability, profit rates, level of output, exchange efficiency, costs of sales promotion, unethical practices, participant rationality, conservation, 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 performance 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 institutional 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, wholesaling 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. Specifically, an entry ratio is developed based on survey results. For producers, an exit ratio is also developed. Finally, product differentiation 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 characterization 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 transportation, types of transport used, and the relationship between buyer and seller of the foodstuffs.

Communication and associations between the various market participants are evaluated by means of survey data. Such information would


include, among other things, the form and character of market information flows and the percentage of the participants whobelong 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 variations 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:

It = XtSt + et (1)


Y = the observed price in month t, xt = the trend component in month t,

St = the seasonal component in month t,

6t = 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' 2 t' n 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 (2)
Yt,t+1 12 E t

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:

Y6,7 T2- Et Yt

In the second primary average, which can be written:
1 13
7,8 = 12 t Yt

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:
t+5 t+6
t 2 t-lt t, t+1) 7 j I 6 t t5Y ) (3)

The average.YV is assigned the central month of the two overlapping 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
77 (Y 67+ Y )7 = ( Et Yt + Et Yt)
2 6,7 7,8~ 2 12 l t ~t +2. t)
2 2'Y2 1 2

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 as:
Yt _Yt

Yt Xt

Bearing in mind equation (1), and dividing both sides of this equation by xt, we have:

t S + t (5)
xt Xt


However, since yt =x, the seasonal price component can be specified as:

yt = S + t (5)

As specified in equation (5)', however, the seasonal price

component is influenced by the stochastic term t. This stochastic Xt
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
t E yt k 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 themselves during different years. In this study, however, these coefficients 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 postharvest period, or when high points coincide with the pre-harvest period.


Seasonal adjustment of price change

It has long been recognized that the seasonal factor in agricultural 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 magnitude 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 flexibility. 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:

Y = a + b X +E. (7)

Yij = a + b Xij + c Tij ij) and Yij = a + b Xij + c Tij + dXij Tij + Cij (9)

and three equations defining the seasonally-adjusted price:

Sij (ij E) + X (10)

S. = (Y -E + X (11)
(b + dTij)

S. == ij E + X -(12)
13 b
In the above equations, the mathematical variables are defined as:

Yij = the observed average monthly price,

YE = the estimated value of the seasonal factor price,


X. =the 15-month moving average value estimating the cycle


Tij = time,

i = month (1-12),

j = year (1968-1976),

= 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 seasonallyadjusted 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 = *(Oij YE) + Xija

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 cases,

Y ij YE +X. (12)

Replacing YE by a+bXij in (13), and placing the right-hand side


under the same denominator, b, we obtain,

S Y. a-bX. bX.
b b

Y. a
S = 13b (13)
13 b

Models III and IV use the same estimating equation, but differ in the definition of Sij. If equation (9) is used to estimate the seasonal relationship, and if Xij is known, then model III is used, and X. = (Yij -Y ) + Xij. However, if Xij is not known, Sij is calculated using model IV. In such a case,

(Y* -Y )
S. = i E) +X (11)
(b +-d Tij)

Replacing YE by a+bXij + cTij + dXijTij in equation (9), we obtain,

Sij a bXij cTj -dXij ij +Xjj (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 price.

From the above discussion, it can be seen that it is possible

to obtain estimates of seasonally-adjusted prices, once the regression, line is estimated. This is accomplished by adding the cycle-trend value (Xij) and the irregular value (Yij YE). The advantage of this method is that 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

12/ 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 coefficients 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 commodities.

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 (X1,Y1), (X2,2), . (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:

= (X X) (Yi

1 2 2 2 (
X 2 (15)
(X1 X) (Y I


or equivalently,

12 12 12
n E X. Y.- E X Y. (16)
i= i=1 i=1
12 2 n 12 2 12 2]
nE X E X i2 n E Y. El Yi)

Given 0 estimator of p, a test of hypothesis regarding 0 is

possible. Even though the probability distribution of 0 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. Therefore, the test can be applied for:

Ho: p = 0, using a test, in which, t p-p Sr

or t p-0 or t = p (18)

(1-p2) / (n-2)

The null hypothesis states that X and Y are independent, i.e., p=O 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 Yaound6 area, these comparative correlation coefficients are used to evaluate the degree of market integration resulting from private and traditional information systems.1-/


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 Characteristics

Organization of the Marketing System

Foodstuff distribution is dominated by the traditional marketing

13/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"moderd'food marketing subsystem 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 stream14/
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 that there are numerous intermediaries between the producer and the final consumer. The largest group of intermediaries are the "higglers" or "buyemsellems." These middlemen represent an important component of the marketing system. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few studies such as Nsangou [41] and Diarra [81 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 foodstuff 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 distribution 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,


ITotal Production1,1 Rural

Rurn L Marikets 11DVI -Urban Central Markets

SNeighborhood Markets

Resturants{ Institutions Street Retailers Urban Consumption Figure 5. Foodstuffs distribution system in Yaound6 and adjacent areas


(b) foodstuffs revenues are increasingly supplementing export crops revenues, (c) land ownership is not an essential requirement for food crop production, since rental arrangements and special permission for growing annual crops are becoming popular alternatives and (d) increased regularity of income streams throughout the year, since many food crops, unlike export crops, can be grown throughout the year.

The dualistic structure of the agricultural economy is also

reflected in the decision making behavior of food producers. Among food producers there are thosewhose primary objective is to produce for the market, and those who produce mainly for home consumption. However, within the context of this study, the total quantities of foodstuffs available for market, constitute the marketable surplus.

Food producers sell their products: (a) directly to consumers in rural or urban markets, (b) to the MIDEVIV in their villages, and (c) to marketing "higglers," either at home, or in rural markets. The third channel is by far the most important. Factors contributing to this characteristic are complex and multidimensional. However, some of the most obvious factors are: (a) limited direct contact between food producers and urban consumers, as a result of settlement and transportation patterns, (b) absence of individually or cooperatively owned transportation facilities, which would permit producers to directly market their commodities in the urban centers, and (c) limited cash exchange between rural food producers.and rural consumers, since local exchange is primarily of a non-pecuniary nature.

The dominant marketing channel, although "traditional" in terms of the preponderance of "higgler" middlemen, does attain elements of commercialization via the role played by these middlemen in