Penja Pepper: Production Hits 350 Tonnes After Certification

The pepper that has gained national and international recognition has enormous economic potential.

Penja, a locality in the Moungo Division is known far and wide thanks to the rich volcanic soil nature conserved to grow the famous unadulterated, special white and black pepper dubbed Penja Pepper. The pepper that is singled out from a handful of imported ones for its unique taste and flavour during na- tional and international com- petition was certified by the African Intellectual Property Organisation (OAPI) in 2013 as a geographical indication product under the brand name ‘Poivre de Penja’. Following the fact sheet, the Penja Pepper production zone consists of the Loum, Manjo, Mbanga, Njombé-Penja and Tombel subdivisions in the Moungo and Kupe Muanenguba Divisions. The story of Penja pepper 21 years back when just a few producers including the pioneer individual producer, Réne Claude Metomo Elogo, got engaged was nothing to ride home with. According to him, just the CDC, PHP and other companies were involve in production when he started. Their product put together amounted to about 20 tonnes in 1996 and 50 tonnes in 1999. The low production to him was the population’s lack of interest in the production. Instead, they produced mostly fruits like pineapples that equally fetched them some money. Réne Claude Metomo, who dived into farming after resigning from a forest company, dedi- cated his time to get villagers interested and in 2010, many had created plantations and production increased to 250 tonnes per year. In the same light, the price of a kilogram increased from Fcfa 2,000 in 1996 to Fcfa 3,000, Fcfa 4,000, Fcfa 5,000 and Fcfa 6,000 as time went on till 2010. A new page opened in 2013 with the OAPI certification that did not only increase the number of farmers in the Penja Pepper Cooperative to between 400 and 450, and the quantity produced to between 300 and 400 tonnes per year, but equally led to the increase in price of the genuine Penja pepper to Fcfa 8,000 then to Fcfa 10,000 per kilogram. The product with added value is Cameroon’s pride in France, Switzerland, Germany and many other countries in Europe, not forgetting the 16 member states of OAPI including Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ga- bon and Senegal where the product is highly consumed. Given the economic importance and quality of the product, a delegation from the Soviet Union visited the Penja Pepper Coo- perative after many members of government including the former and present Agriculture Ministers had visited. The importance the govern- ment attaches to the revenue generating economic activity provided portable water, a trac- tor for farmers and construc- ted as well as equipped the building that serves as the cooperative’s office. Though demand exceed supply, the Cooperative President disclosed that if youths get interested and new plantations created, the negligible supply will be enhanced and unemployment eradicated. The only challenge the producers have is to strive to maintain the quality of the product over time.

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