Cameroon seems to be the epicenter of the Coronavirus in West and Central African sub region after the number of positive cases has risen exponentially (over 16000 presently). The Anglophone crisis on its part seems to keep escalating despite all efforts by the government to stop the bloody crisis. The most disturbing aspect is the fact that, there seems to be no solution in sight for both the intransigent Anglophone crisis, and the noble coronavirus. The virus on its part keeps eating deep into the economy and the impact of the pandemic is multifaceted as it affects the social wellbeing and the economic activities and potentials of the people.
The effects of the health crisis appear to be harder on the farmers and traders. Since most of our farm products are perishable, COVID-19 has made things worst with restrictions on movements. It is important to mention here that Cameroon had been the bread basket of her sub region in Africa,but with the coming of Covid-19, traders no longer come in from Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Central African Republic. Consequently most of the farm produce remain in the hands of farmers who cannot consume all of their own produce. For instance, a bag of plums that used to sell at FCFA 2000 is now sold at FCFA3500 because of the absence of buyers. A basket of fresh tomatoes that use to sell at FCFA 8000 – FCFA10000 at this period of the year is now sold at FCFA1500 or FCFA2000. This is suicidal as most farmers are unable to recover huge amount of money that they burrowed for farm inputs. The situation is not better with fresh maize farmers whose products have also suffered drastic fall in demand.
The impact of the virus is devastating. The incomes of these farmers as well as traders have tremendously dropped, leading to a fall in their standard of living. They are now unable to afford for their basic needs or meet up with societal expectations. The situation calls for more attention as COVID-19 is apparently not leaving us any time soon. In effect, this suffering will persist indefinitely. Feeding, health care and education of the children remain the most challenging of all the difficulties imposed by the pandemic.
The impact is even more suffocating on the people of the two English speaking regions of Cameroon –who have to bear the excruciating weight of the two crises affecting them –. One can imagine the pain of farmers who defy the thundering sounds of gunshots to go to farms but at the end cannot sell their produce. Worthless risk!!!! Some struggle to cultivate but cannot even harvest due to military raids or constant cross fire between the military and the separatist fighters. Some of these gun men have taken siege in some of these farmers’ farms, making most farmers to abandon their farms and run to run to urban farmers as internally displaced persons.
This situation calls for an urgent need to make processing opportunities available so that instead of facing this unwarranted market situation, they could reduce the perishability and diversify the forms of the products. This will certainly go a long way to stabilize the incomes of these suffering farmers.