Climate & Agriculture
North and south
Broadly speaking, the climate of Cameroon splits into two:
i) the tropical climate of the north has a single, light wet season and high temperatures (averaging 30°C) which increase in the dry regions to the far north
ii) the moderated climate of the south has fairly constant temperatures (averaging 26°C) and two wet seasons with heavy, regular rains influenced by the sea and land elevations.
Plantains vs. bananas
Plantains are a type of banana picked green/unripe and boiled, fried or roasted as a starchy staple (in the same way as potatoes). Sweet bananas come from cultivated varieties of two Asian species of the plant and are eaten when they’re yellow/ripe. (The only species of plantain/banana native to Africa – Musa ensete – does not bear edible fruit.)
On the plateau land of the south, coffee, sugar and tobacco are important cash crops. Along the coast, the climate allows for the growing of export crops such as cocoa, bananas, palm oil, rubber and tea.
Cameroon is one of the top five producers of cocoa. Cocoa beans are the country’s highest-earning agricultural export (bringing in more than 600 million dollars in 2010 according to the UN's Food & Agriculture Organisation). Cotton and bananas are the next highest earners.
Foods grown for the domestic market include maize and plantains/ bananas. Cassava (or manioc), beans, sorghum and vegetables are also common crops, as is taro (or cocoyam/ mocabo). This tropical plant is grown as a root vegetable, with the leaves eaten as well as the corm.
The climate in the north favours crops such as cotton, peanuts/groundnuts and rice. In areas too dry for planting, farmers graze livestock.
In the highlands of the west, potatoes are an important crop. These were introduced by European settlers in the 19th century.
See the Human Map where local foods of each region are shown.
Battling climate change
Observing the climate
The government of Cameroon has set up a National Observatory on Climate Change to monitor its effects on the country’s agriculture and ecosystems.
Across Cameroon, most regions have long had favourable conditions for agriculture. However, climate change is bringing more erratic patterns of weather. Local farmers have noticed a drop in yields of certain crops, such as maize. And rains in the south have been particularly heavy in recent years, causing the destruction of crops through over-wet conditions or flooding.
In the north, farmers and herders have been moving their families away from the Lake Chad region. The volume of the lake has been dwindling and rising temperatures are causing the desert to advance (a process known as ‘desertification’).
As part of ‘Operation Green Sahel’, 48,000 trees have been planted in northern areas. This programme is aimed at protecting the soil of the Sahel regions to reduce desertification.