Coffee is an important crop in Cameroon in terms of income and employment generation. Productivity of coffee has been declining over time with a consequent decline in the corresponding incomes. The Government of Cameroon is addressing this shortfall through a number of measures, a key one being introduction of four pilot central pulping units (CPUs). This paper assesses the technical, economic and commercial sustainability of the CPUs. There was good capacity utilization among all the CPUs as indicated by no significant difference (p>0.05) between the model specification and what the CPUs actually achieved. The main approach for increasing capacity utilization is processing more coffee per day, utilizing more days and hours on each processing day. It is possible for the CPUs to perform better under improved conditions of red cherry delivery. All the CPUs except one were commercially viable in the trial phase. The exceptional non-viability was due to management problems, but projections assuming good management demonstrated that it would be commercially viable in the long run. Coffee processed was above the breakeven quantities. Given improvements in the production levels, the cooperatives in charge of the CPUs can purchase the CPUs. Net benefits accruing to the use of the CPUs were higher than those derived from other processing practices. Coffee growers’ perceptions, technical efficiency and commercial viability lend support to sustainability of the CPUs. There is need to encourage the coffee growers to increase the supply of coffee to the CPUs. Capacity building is required to improve financial and labour management among the cooperatives that are in charge of the CPUs.
Key words: Processing, technology, benefits, sustainability, efficiency, profitability, pulping.
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