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General News of Monday, 13 January 2014

Source: Cameroon Tribune

Fcfa 35.5 Billion to Revamp Cotton Production

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MINFI on Friday, January 10, 2014 chaired the signing of a loan agreement between SODECOTON and local banks.

A consortium of five local banks have reached an agreement with the Cotton Development Corporation, SODECOTON, to loan out FCFA 35.5 billion for the latter to move annual cotton production from 210,000 tons in 2013 to 240,000 tons in 2014. The amount also permits the agro-industry to journey out of hitherto reliance on foreign banks to finance its production.

Finance Minister, Alamine Ousmane Mey, on Friday January 10 chaired the signing of the loan agreement between SODECOTON and the negotiator of the deal, Commercial Bank Cameroon, as well as with officials of the other contributing banks. The contributors include Afriland First Bank (FCFA 10 billion), SGC (FCFA 8 billion), Ecobank (FCFA 7.5 billion), CBC (FCFA 5 billion) and BICEC (FCFA 5 billion).

Speaking during the ceremony, Minister Alamine Ousmane Mey said the money is to finance the 2013/2014 cotton production season to boost output and benefit from interesting prices in the world market masterminded by strong Chinese demand and a reduction in production by main cotton growing countries. The loan was the fourth operation that local banks were financing SODECOTON production.

In 2011, four banks loaned out FCFA 6.5 billion, moved the amount to FCFA 10 billion in 2012 and FCFA 15 billion in 2013. That they are on again, Finance Minister said, is proof of confidence on the agro-industry and its capacity to pay back the money so that other borrowers can also benefit to keep the economy buoyant.

The General Manager of SODECOTON, Abdou Namba, disclosed that the outfit's dividends moved from FCFA 1.5 billion in 2010 to about FCFA 8 billion today. "A few years ago, we realised that farmers sent their produce to neigbouring countries. It was a disturbing situation for us and we have been redoubling efforts to stop the trend. This money is for the farmers," he said.

Meanwhile, the Provisional Administrator of CBC, Martin Luther Njanga Njoh, said the size of SODECOTON and the fact that some two million people live on the cotton sector motivated the banks to venture into supporting it.

"You cannot develop a country if you don't take care of the peoples' mainstays. SODECOTON is making profits, its accountability is clear and this is what banks are looking for to give out money through which we also benefit," he said. A view shared by the General Manager of Afriland First Bank, the lead contributor, Alphonse Nafack, who pledged their readiness to continually finance the economy for growth objectives to be attained.

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