Cameroon is undergoing an economic upswing. Nevertheless, its farmers are not producing to prevent nutritional crises.




Official language

French, English


475,442 km²


Approximately 24 million

Population growth

2.6% (564,000 more inhabitants per year)

Rural population

1.5 million (45.4% of the total population)

Gross domestic product

USD 29 billion

Per capita annual income

USD 1309

Share of agriculture in GDP


Severity of hunger, according to the Global Hunger Index

Serious (value: 22.9 / Trend: -7.6)

Share of the population suffering from malnutrition


Human Development Index

Index: 0.512 / Rank: 153 of 188

Proportion of the population living on less than USD 1.25 a day


On the way to becoming an emerging market?

Cameroon is the cultural and geographic link between West and Central Africa. While crises have shaken neighboring countries in the region, political conditions in Cameroon have been more stable. Advantageously located for trade and rich in raw materials, the country has an annual economic growth rate of about 5 percent. The seventh-largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, Cameroon is expected to attain the status of an emerging market by 2035, according to the government's projections. 


But Cameroon still has some work to do. According to the United Nations' Human Development Index (HDI), the country ranks 153rd out of 188 countries. 23 percent of Cameroonians are under-nourished, and almost 40 percent are living below the national poverty line of 2 US dollars a day. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change considers the Cameroon region particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In addition, gender inequality and the terrorism of the Boko Haram group represent obstacles to rural development. Cameroon is currently experiencing a food crisis. 


Rich in raw materials

Cameroon continues to be highly dependent on agriculture, which provides a livelihood for three quarters of the country's 24 million inhabitants and accounts for 24 percent of the gross domestic product. More than half of Cameroon's agricultural production is grown by small farmers to meet their own needs. They till the fields largely by hand, and agricultural productivity is still very low. In the northern part of the country, farmers feed their families by growing cassava, millet, corn and rice. In the south, farmers grow taro, yams, cassava, rice, bananas and plantains, potatoes, avocado, beans and okra. The climate, particularly in central and southern Cameroon, is favorable for cultivating all kinds of fruit. Cotton, cocoa, tobacco, rubber, tea, coffee, palm oil and sugar cane are grown mainly by state-owned farms.


Cameroon's rainforests contribute to the country's biological diversity and stable climate. They also play an important role as a source of food and income for the local population. Along with oil and cocoa, wood is the country's most important export. The potential offered by hydropower and the existing mineral resources, such as bauxite, diamonds, petroleum, cobalt and nickel, is very high. Widespread corruption and the depletion of natural resources are the flip side of the country's wealth in natural resources. But the country's natural resources create an opportunity for accelerating agricultural production and economic development, and provisions can be made in advance for the time when oil reserves start to run out.


Brakes on agricultural development

More than 70 percent of work in the field and dairy and poultry farming is performed by women in Cameroon. But to this day, women in Cameroon are largely prohibited from owning land. It is not rare for the income earned from harvest surpluses to be managed by men. As a result, women in rural areas are often dependent on men. A competitive dairy industry has yet to emerge in Cameroon, unlike in East African countries. The government banned the import of chicken meat in order to create an incentive for the development of domestic production to provide a source of supply for the local population. But here as well, the challenge is that productivity must be increased significantly so that products can be made available in sufficient quantities at an affordable price, particularly for the poor.  


The attacks by the terrorist organization Boko Haram from neighboring Nigeria are having a grave impact.


The attacks by the terrorist organization Boko Haram from neighboring Nigeria are having a grave impact. As a result, food is in short supply and food prices are rising. The extreme north of Cameroon is especially hard hit. 1,200 people have already fallen victim to the armed conflict and another 325,000 have been forced to flee. The refugees depend on food aid, which mostly consists only of rice and soybeans. According to the government of Cameroon, it needs more than 130,000 tons of grain in order to adequately feed the population.


CASSAVA AND PALM WINE The selection of fruits on the streets of Cameroon is broad, ranging from guavas to pineapples, lemons, papayas and coconuts. But not everyone can afford this fruit. Low-income Cameroonians prefer to spend their money on carbohydrate-rich staple foods, which are very filling when fried in oil. As a result, Cameroon's cuisine is rather low in vitamins and high in fat. A typical dish is Bâton de Manioc, a cassava pulp wrapped in leaves. Serving as a side dish are plantains or yams. Cameroonians like to drink palm wine.

Cameroon's goal: adapting to climate change

Cameroon's government is currently trying to reduce poverty and to secure the population's food supply. Since food security in times of climate change has been a major topic on the political agenda for a few years now, the country is pursuing strategies of its own in order to adapt. For example, the reforestation of selected areas with Raphia trees is intended to protect farmland from water evaporation and wind. Other measures aim to organize irrigation on a community basis and to revive traditional farming practices. Under this program, small farmers will begin using chicken dung, a cheap and eco-friendly fertilizer, as well as fighting harmful caterpillars with kiln ash. At the same time, Eucalyptus leaves will replace expensive industrial chemicals as protection against pests.



Back to overview