Cameroon’s banana sector is set to benefit from a 48 million euros ($62 million) grant from the European Union  as the Central African country seeks to double its annual output to 500,000 tonnes by 2013, state radio said on Friday.

EU resident representative Raul Mateus Paula was quoted saying that the EU had signed an interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the central African state in 2009 and was currently negotiating a full EPA for the Central Africa sub-region. EPAs are designed to reduce trade barriers between the EU and its partners.

Head of the external trade department in Cameroon’s Ministry of Trade, Emmanuel Mbarga said the grant would be distributed among major producing firms with plans to boost output.

According to Reuters, Cameroon produced 250,000 tonnes of bananas in 2011, up from 230,000 tonnes in 2010, due in large part to improved farming methods. It has announced plans to raise output to 500,000 tonnes by 2013 by opening more plantations.

Cameroon’s major exports are oil and cash crops such as cocoa, coffee, timber, rubber, cotton, and bananas. Her major imports include semi-processed products, industrial inputs, machinery, and food products.

The European Union is Cameroon’s main trading partner accounting for 55 per cent of all its exports.

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