Over the past few decades, growth in cashew cultivation has taken place in the West-African cashew producing nation of Guinea-Bissau. This has resulted in the replacement of traditional slash-and-burn agricultural systems with cash crops. Consequently, the country is currently one of the world's largest producers of raw cashews, and the cashew sector has become tremendously influential to the nation's economy.
As of this moment, the cashew nut is by far the most important cash crop in Guinea-Bissau, accounting for as much as ninety percent of the country's exports and the main source of income in rural areas, involving a whopping eighty percent of the population of Guinea Bissau.
The cashew tree was introduced to the country by the Portuguese in the 19th century but hadn't actually developed into a full-blown cultivation tradition until the mid-1980s. It is widely cultivated by small farmers around villages and also plays a role in land ownership and tenure because of the fact that land tenure practices in the country are linked to tree planting.
In Guinea Bissau, cashew crops had initially been planted as long-term dormant trees to replenish depleted soils; however, the accelerated proliferation of cashew trees (such as it took place in the mid-1980s) drastically changed the agricultural landscape. Owing to its considerable economic potential linked to strong international demand for cashews, in particular major cashew importing countries like India and China, areas previously used for the cultivation of other cash crops as well as those under natural forest cover have been cleared and converted into thriving cashew orchards. Currently, cashew trees are cultivated by more than half of the country's agricultural households, constituting an essential source of income for small farmers.
Cashew plantations in Guinea Bissau are cleaned and prepared from around the months of October to January, while the trees bloom anywhere from January up until the end of April, depending on the region. Traders begin to approach producers in January, offering them cash or barter credits for future production. The campaign effectively starts in the month of March, most often with the announcement of the official producer reference price, which is the minimum price that producers should receive. The cashew harvest season in Guinea Bissau is from January to July, and the exporting starts in May and can continue until September. Throughout this cashew harvesting season in Guinea Bissau, cultivators wait for ripened cashew apples to drop from the trees, upon which the cashews are separated by hand.
Typically, the price of cashew nuts in Guinea Bissau for 2022 will depend on three factors
The prices for Guinea-Bissau cashew nuts have increased dramatically over the past few years. The demand for cashews has increased sharply as China has entered the consumer market, and the demand from the United States as well as the European Union has only been increasing year by year. Guinea-Bissau is not quite a price setter in the international market. Although it is becoming an increasingly important exporter of cashews in terms of quantity and quality, with a global market share of around two percent, the price of Guinea Bissau cashew nuts in 2022 will not have any bearing on international prices because it simply doesn’t have the influence required to do so. Moreover, while most of the international market revolves around the kernel obtained after removing the cashew kernel from its shell, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau mainly export unprocessed cashew nuts.
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