Cameroon state firm SODECOTTON has increased farmgate raw cotton price by 27.5 percent for the current harvest in an effort to dissuade farmers from smuggling their produce to neighbouring Nigeria, a spokesman said on Wednesday.SODECOTTON said it will pay farmers 255 CFA francs ($0.50)per kg of cotton this season from 200 CFA per kg in the previous season.About 16 percent of Cameroon??s total output of 161,000 tonnes in the 2010/2011 season was smuggled into Nigeria where farmers were paid almost twice what they get in Cameroon, said Louis-Marie Nama.
??This massive illegal exportation was a big blow to SODECOTTON, with the corporation losing about 24 billion CFA francs ($47.37 million) during the year,?? Nama said.The firm pre-finances purchases by providing farmers with seedlings, fertilisers and other materials on the agreement that they sell their cotton to SODECOTTON.??But this time the farmers did not respect the terms of the deal, preferring to illegally export to our western neighbour,?? Nama said.Cotton is cultivated by about 200,000 peasant farmers on about 172,000 hectares in Cameroon??s semi-arid Far North, North and Adamawa regions.Official data from the firm shows that Cameroon??s raw cotton production rose 47 percent to 161,800 tonnes during the 2010-11 season with plans to increase output to between 185,000-200,000 tonnes in 2011/12 following the introduction of new high-yield plants.Nama said SODECOTTON plans to raise its pre-financing fund from 33.8 billion CFA francs from 24 billion CFA during the 2011/12 season to boost production.($1 = 506.6670 CFA francs)