Immediately following independence from
France in 1960, Cameroon’s economy experienced a period of substantial economic
growth, mainly fuelled by agricultural exports. Accordingly, agricultural
commodities accounted for 30% of gross domestic product (GDP) and 80% of total
exports until the emergence of oil exports in 1978.1
Government subsidization of key inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides kept
coffee exports competitive throughout the 1970s and 80s. Coffee production
peaked at 2.2 million 60-kg bags in 1986, then declined steadily as Cameroon
slipped deep into economic recession.2 The
downturn occurred due to corruption, cronyism, economic mismanagement, and most
importantly, a fall in market prices for the country’s main exports: petroleum,
coffee, cocoa, and bananas.3 In
response to decreased revenue from the agricultural sector, the Cameroonian
government adjusted policy and instituted a structural adjustment program (SAP)
to liberalize trade, remove input subsidies, and privatize agriculture.4 Growers
and consumers alike felt the effects of these policies throughout the mid
1990s, during which domestic coffee production decreased in both quality and
quantity.5 Current
yields are highly variable, but continue the overall decreasing trend since

Cameroon: Economic Impact

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continued reliance on coffee exports has clear effects on its economy. In the
mid 1990s, coffee production accounted for between 1 and 1.5% of total GDP.7 This
contribution has progressively shrunk to providing only .3-.5% between 2010 and
2015.8 In such
an intensely agriculture-based economy, coffee cultivation and its associated
industries (processing, quality control, distribution, etc.) provide a lasting
source of income for millions of Cameroonians, year after year.

having such a large portion of the population engaged in producing an
agricultural commodity whose value is so heavily reliant on climate and market
prices can be troubling. Continuing to
produce coffee along with other low-performance exports in all likelihood hurt
economic growth prospects during the 1986 recession. However, it is doubtful
that Cameroon could easily have transitioned to more lucrative exports or
increased value added to the extent necessary to counteract the fall in market
prices of its main exports. Furthermore, Gilbert et al.’s robust regression
analysis concludes that coffee exports had a statistically significant positive
effect on economic growth in Cameroon over the years 1975-2009.9
Thus, short-term fluctuations in the country’s coffee production do not appear
to negate any net positive impacts on long-term economic growth.

Cameroon: Conclusions

production in Cameroon exhibits a net positive relationship with economic
growth, even though it may not be a very large contributor. Despite severe
policy mishaps and inevitable market volatility, production of coffee continues
to account for a noticeable share of GDP and employs a huge portion of the
workforce. Relatively low coffee output provides an accordingly low
contribution to economic growth in the Central African country of Cameroon.


Colombia: Background

mountainous terrain provides ideal conditions for coffee cultivation. The
country is currently the third-largest coffee producer in the world,10 with
around 530,000 Colombians directly employed in the industry.11 Coffee
is often credited with bringing the country’s economy onto the world stage,
given periods of high-value exportation. Throughout an extensive history of
cultivation, the state of Colombia’s economy has been bound to coffee market
price fluctuations. The crop’s share of Colombian total exports ranges from as
low as 17% in 1995 to as high as 83% in 1955.12 Booms
in coffee production have provided much needed revenue for critical
developments in transportation networks and communications infrastructure.13 Steep
drops in market prices, on the other hand, have had disastrous consequences. In
times of low profitability, producers have been known to supplement or replace
coffee revenues with illegal drug crop cultivation, such as coca and poppies.14

            The relationship between Colombia
and coffee cultivation is long and complex. Beginning as early as the
mid-1800s, production expanded significantly between 1910 and 1930, with
emphasis on small and medium-sized growing operations.15 High
export prices during this early period increased national savings, which
contributed to the development of Colombia’s national rail network, roads, and
ports.16 Coffee
exports were of almost singular importance until the 1960s, when the national
economy began to diversify. The 1970s and 80s were the years of coffee booms,
with steep increases in coffee prices and high industry output producing large

1 Ibid.,

International Coffee Organization, “Country
Coffee Profile: Cameroon,” 11.

Gilbert, Linyong, and Divine, “Impact
of Agricultural Export,” 45.

Nchare, “Analysis of Factors,” 8.

International Coffee Organization, “Country
Coffee Profile: Cameroon,” 11-12.

6 Ibid.,

7 Ibid.,

8 Ibid.

Gilbert, Linyong, and Divine, “Impact
of Agricultural Export,” 61.

International Coffee Organization, “Total production.”

11 Toro, Economía Cafetera Y
Desarrollo Económico, 15.

12 Ibid.

13 Holmes, Gutiérrez de Piñeres, and
Curtin, Guns, Drugs, and Development,

14 Ibid., 106.

15 Estrada, The Paths of Coffee, 13.

16 Toro, Economía Cafetera Y Desarrollo Económico, 258.

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