To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

February 19, 2007

Tough times for Guinea-Bissau cashew farmers

Cashews account for an estimated 80 percent of the foreign exchange earnings of the small West African nation of Guinea-Bissau . Eighty-five percent of the population depends on the trade of the country's single cash crop.

The Voice of America's Senegal bureau reports that changes in government policy are having unforeseen negative effects on cashew farmers, compounded by shifts in world markets that have seen prices drop.

Cashew farmer Jerry Ndiaye says government officials have been trying to regulate and curb activity by Senegalese and Indian buyers, but that this has actually hurt local farmers. He explains that a high fixed government price meant to aid the viability of cashew farming is not being met by private buyers and the government has no credit, only promissory notes.

Most of these cashews will be processed in India - the major center for cashew production - before being used in local cuisine there or exported to the West as an appetizer. A very small amount is processed in Guinea-Bissau because of recurrent electricity outages and instability.

A kilo of processed organic cashews can sell for $30 or more in Western countries. In Guinea-Bissau, a farmer is now lucky to get $0.25 for a kilo. More border controls to regulate the movement of cashews have also lowered prices in the field. To make matters worse, the allure of cashews has been reduced in India, Europe and the United States following health scares and reports the crunchy food caused allergies. This all makes the price farmers get in
Guinea-Bissau lower. Some of the buyers have moved their business to Senegal's nearby Casamance region, encouraging farmers there to produce more cashews.

Some cashew farmers are going back to growing rice again, alongside millet, potatoes and mangoes or trying fishing. They say cashews can be used for the fruit, to roast as a treat, or to make the local alcohol, soumsoum, but that it is just not lucrative enough to sell to foreigners anymore.


Although export of niche crops have provided African farmers with export and good income opportunities, the problems with cashew in Guinea-Bissau illustrate how farmers can become dangerously vulnerable to over-reliance on the export market with all its vagaries. With less than one percent of the final retail price ending up in the farmer's pocket, the story also shows how the producer is often one of the weakest links in the earnings chain, particularly where s/he does no value addition to the raw product.

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings expo exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture hydroponics ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maiz maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by

Back to TOP