A farmer stands next to a bunch of pineapples that are ready for sale. Photo Credit: Elias Ngalame

Cameroon plantation firm eyes bigger pineapple market share

By Elias Ngalame

Cameroon’s plantation firm Mukete Estate has recorded remarkable growth in the past five years. Renowned for its palm, rubber, cocoa and coffee plantations in Kumba in the country’s Southwest region, the agroindustrial company owned by Nfon Victor Mukete added pineapple to its portfolio in 2019 with funding from Agropole, a government programme that supports agribusinesses. The Agropole programme was created by a prime ministerial decree on August 6, 2012 as a tool for developing the rural economies.

In addition to financial support, the programme also provides farm equipment and farm inputs such as insecticides to its beneficiaries. The pineapple plantation’s manager, Ekoko Mukete, says the AGROPOLE funding to the tune of 380, 946, 061 fcfa in 2019, has helped to increase production significantly from 1, 200 tonnes in 2019 to 8, 260 tonnes in 2023. “Our production has significantly stepped up thanks to government financial support that pemitted us to expand the plantation, employed more workers,” Ekoko said. The company also received two tractors, a generator, water pumps, two engine saws, insecticides and other modern equipment worth over 850million FCFA for the pineapple project.

The support enabled the firm to start processing pineapple fruit juice and other by-products in 2021. Having started off with a labour force of 25 people in 2019, the project today has since generated direct employment for over 500 young people and indirect business for over 1,500 in sales.

The company is also training over 200 youths yearly in pineapple cultivation from the planting stage to harvesting and selling.

The hectares under pineapples have expanded from 44 to 118. The government has in the past said it is proud about its investment in Mukete Estate, saying processing and marketing of pineapples has contributed to value addition, created employment for the youth and improved the country’s trade balance by reducing imports of pineapple juice and by-products. “Engaging youth in agribusiness is a sure way to create jobs and eliminate food insecurity and poverty in Cameroon in particular and Africa at large.

The Mukete Estate Plantation is setting the example for other investors to follow,” said Cameroon’s minister of trade, Loius Magloire Mbarga Atangana, when he visited to the plantation last year. Mukete Estate is one of the largest companies and employers in Southwest region after the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) and PAMOL.

The processing of pineapples into fruit juice and other by-products has since attracted a chain of auxillary marketing businesses in the sales of packaged pineapple fruit juice in plastics and bottles. The pineapple juiced processed at Mukete Estate is being sold in Cameroon and other African countries under the “Ananas du Cameroun” trade mark.

The company says it plans to get to 16,000 tons by 2025 and 26,000 tons by 2030 “Over the next three years we hope to reach our expectation of being one of the biggest suppliers of pineapples from the Central Africa region,” the manager said. The government has also announced plans to construct a 15 kilometres road to serve the production area and ease evacuation of the product to the markets.

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