Dried cocoa beans are pictured in this file photo.

Cocoa farm-gate prices in Cameroon have dropped since last month as production has increased, farmers said on Monday.

An easing of rains in the world's fifth-largest grower has also improved bean drying operations and made upcountry roads more passable - increasing the amount of export-ready cocoa available to the market.

“There is a steady supply of the beans on the market,” said Francis Fobi, the secretary general of the South-West Farmers Cooperative Union (SOWEFCU) based in the main marketing centre Kumba. The South-West produces 40 percent of the national crop.

Speaking to Reuters from Emana in the Centre region, which produces another 40 percent of Cameroon's cocoa, local cooperative leader Emmanuel Nnogo Akolo said improved weather conditions have led to a massive influx of unlicensed buyers from the capital city.

They move from door to door with plenty of cash and save the farmers the pains of transporting beans themselves.

“Many farmers here are very eager now to sell their beans and begin buying Christmas provisions for their family members before the month of December when prices go up,” he said.

Prices in the South, the third largest growing region, also fell. Farmers said the collapse of the Ntem River bridge had made it hard for them to move beans out of the area.

Cameroon's cocoa season runs from August 1 to July 31, with the main harvest period from October to February. Production hit an all-time record of 240,000 tonnes in 2010/11, and the Cocoa Development Authority (SODECAO) foresees it reaching 250,000 tonnes in 2011/12. - Reuters