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Retail beef prices

(i) Administered prices

18. In the larger towns of the Mandara Mountains region, such as Mokolo, Mora and Koza, two grades of beef are weighed and sold by the kilogram: beef with bones and beef without bones. The control prices in 1980-81, when the average exchange rate was 240 FCFA = US$ 1.00, were 300 FCFA for the former and 350 FCFA for the latter. The filet, tongue, head, hooves, and skin are not sold by the kilogram but rather in their entirety. The offals are cut up and sold in small unweighed piles at higher prices per kilogram than beef with bones.

19. The determination of retail beef price ceilings is left to the jurisdiction of prefectoral administrations in northern Cameroon, who set prices independently of one another and disregard regional supply and demand factors in the process. As shown in Table 4, retail price controls are set at a higher level in the towns of Maroua, Garoua and Yagoua than in the principal towns of the Mandara Mountains. Price controls are also less vigorously enforced in the towns outside the Mandara Mountains. Yet cattle prices, which are unregulated in the markets of northern Cameroon, are lower in the markets of the eastern half of northern Cameroon (Maroua and Yagoua) than the markets of the western half (Mandara Mountains).

Figure 2: Market channels for cattle and beef in The Mandara Mountains Region 1980

Table 3: Butchers' sources of beef and slaughter cattle, 1980

 

Urban Butchers

Rural Butchers

No. of Head

% Total

No. of Head

% Total

Offtake from regional extensive herd

1,490

28

12,730

63

Stall-fed cattle on the hoof

230

4

590

3

Beef from stall-fed cattle slaughtered by owners (in stall-fed cattle equivalents)

0

0

1,005

5

Imports of live cattle from the Plains

3,580

68

5,780

29

Total

5,300

100

20,105

100

Source: Livestock Service statistics, survey data, author estimates.

Table 4: Retail beef control prices in effect at important towns in northern Cameroon, March 1981 (FCFA/kg.)


Mokolo, Koza, Mora

Maroua

Yagoua

Garoua

Beef with bones

300

400

350

500

Beef without bones

350

450

400

600

Source: Prefectoral authorities and Livestock Service officials in northern Cameroon

20. Butchers in Mokolo, Koza and Mora, the major towns of the Mandara Mountains, generally pay as high or higher wholesale (i.e., liveweight) prices per kilogram than Maroua and Yagoua butchers, but are forced to retail beef at lower control prices. This discriminatory price policy has evoked numerous protests from Mokolo butchers, who are forced to bid for slaughter cattle in the Diamare Plains with butchers from Maroua and Gazawa.

(ii) Seasonal variation in retail beef prices

21. Purchased beef was weighed weekly from September 1980 through March 1981 at three periodic markets in the Mandara Mountains (Mokolo, Tourou and Soulede) and at one market in the Diamare Plains (Gazawa). The average monthly prices for beef with bones and beef without bones are plotted in Figures 3 and 4. The low beef prices in Mokolo compared to prices in the other markets is striking. Retail price controls of 300 FCFA for beef with bones and 350 FCFA for beef without bones were enforced, and the data show that the Mokolo butchers respected the controls when weighing beef for sale. As a result of the price controls, there was little seasonal variation in retail beef prices at Mokolo. Prices trended upward very gently from September 1980 to March 1981.

22. While beef prices at Mokolo (and the larger towns of Koza and Mora) were maintained artificially low by price controls, retail prices for beef with and without bones at Soulede, Tourou and Gazawa, which were not controlled, were roughly double those at Mokolo when averaged over the six-to-seven month period. Prices continue to trend upward from March through June at these markets, as slaughter cattle supplies remain constricted and farmers and herders are reluctant to sell cattle in poor condition. Once the rains become regular and the condition of livestock improves by July, more and better conditioned cattle are offered for sale by herders, who need to buy grain and pay for seasonal agricultural laborers (see footnotes 4 and 5 for the basis of these statements).


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