Cocoa Exporters Pull Buyers From Cameroon Region After Threats

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Workers fill a sack with cocoa beans in Ntui village, Cameroon, in December

Cameroon’s two main cocoa exporters have withdrawn their buyers from the southwest region following threats and harassment from secessionist groups, company workers said Friday.

Neither Cargill’s Telcar Cocoa Ltd., which accounts for 27% of the nation’s cocoa exports, nor Olamcam, a unit of Singapore’s Olam International that ships nearly 21% of Cameroon’s beans, would comment on the move from the key cocoa-growing region.

Company workers told The Wall Street Journal that secessionist splinter groups had demanded cocoa exporters pay them 5 million Central African francs ($8,900) to operate in southwestern Cameroon.

The region had been a major source of cocoa for Cameroon, accounting for at least half of the nation’s annual output. But groups seeking independence for the southwest and northwest regions have clashed with government troops in cocoa-growing areas, causing farmers to flee the violence and production to drop.

Cameroon is the world’s fifth largest supplier of cocoa. Large quantities of Cameroon beans have been piling up at the London exchange this year due to quality concerns.