Cameroon cocoa exports down 10 pct from last season

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A worker holds up cocoa beans at a cocoa farm in Klang outside Kuala Lumpur October 7, 2013. REUTERS/Samsul Said

YAOUNDE (Reuters) - Cameroon, the world's fifth largest cocoa grower, has exported 48,171 tonnes since the start of the season, down nearly 10 percent from the same period last year, the National Cocoa and Coffee Board (NCCB) said on Tuesday.

Exports are lagging because of a slow start to the season, which began on August 1, attributed to poor rainfall in the key growing regions in the three preceding months.

But volumes have since increased and in October the country shipped 28,316 tonnes and considerably more than the 23,016 tonnes exported in the same month last year, NCCB said.

The board added that the number of exporters increased to 18 for October, from 12 in September.

Olam Cam was again the top exporter with 7,458 tonnes, followed by Telcar Cocoa Ltd with 6,822 tonnes and then Cameroon Marketing Commodities (CAMACO) with 4,461 tonnes.

Cameroon's cocoa season runs from August 1 to July 31. The main crop harvest period is from October to January and the light crop harvest from April/May to July.

Output peaked at 240,000 tonnes in 2010/11 but slipped to 220,000 tonnes in 2011/12 because of poor weather, pests and disease. Cameroon produced 228,948 tonnes of cocoa in the recently ended 2012/13 season.

Cocoa is Cameroon's second largest export, after oil and oil products, accounting for around 19 percent of the total.