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By Josiane Kouagheu
DOUALA, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Cocoa processing output in Cameroon, Africa's third biggest cocoa grower, is expected to double this season to 120,000 tonnes from 58,000 tonnes last season, the trade minister said while opening the new season.
Trade Minister Luc Atangana was speaking at the opening of Cameroon's 2019/20 cocoa season on Tuesday, in comments published in a statement on Wednesday.
A new plant had been inaugurated at Kekem in the western region of Cameroon with a 30,000 tonne capacity, he said, while SIC CACAO, the local branch of Swiss Barry Callebaut, had increased its grinding capacity at the beginning of the year from 35,000 tonnes to 50,000 tonnes.
"We are moving to 90,000 tonnes. We are expecting another factory of the same capacity in port of Kribi in the next few months, so we will be around 120,000 tonnes," the minister said.
Cocoa supports more than two million people, including 600,000 farmers, Clementine Messina, Minister Delegate to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said.
According to data from the National Office of Cocoa and Coffee (ONCC), local cocoa processing was 53,000 tonnes in the 2017-2018 season, so last's season's increase was marginal.
Cameroon, the continent's largest producer after Ivory Coast and Ghana, produced 264,000 tonnes of cocoa during the 2018-2019 season, the government said. (Reporting by Josiane Kouagheu Writing by Ange Aboa Editing by Tim Cocks and David Evans)