The end of raw cashew nut exports in favour of local nut processing may soon become a reality in Guinea-Bissau with the appearance of more product transformation units, an official source told Macauhub in Bissau.
The Energy and Industry Ministry source said that more than 40 cashew nut processing units were currently registered, of which only 18 are technically capable of operating.
“From the economic and social standpoint, the country gains more from domestic product transformation than from raw nut exports,” said the source, adding that this conclusion had been reached by the government and by economic players with a stake in the cashew sector.
An economist contacted by Macauhub said the current challenge involved choosing a factory model of suitable size that can produce high quality cashews using methods that ensure the best price for producers, giving them sufficient incentive to care for the cashew trees.
If that challenge is met then production will tend to increase and with it the entire cashew planting and harvest cycle, the economist said.
“If this model can be copied at domestic level then the whole industry can begin to grow dynamically, which is a challenge and an opportunity at the same time,” he said, emphasising that the sector has few imports and is rather geared toward exports and “could become one of the country’s biggest sources of foreign currency revenue.”
Companies currently intending to export cashew nuts must by law guarantee that 30 percent of the product has been previously processed in the country.
Exporters must make a cash deposit in the State Treasury amounting to 30 percent of the amount of cashews to be exported. The sum will be returned when the transformation unit confirms that the cashew nuts were actually processed.
In 2014 Guinea-Bissau exported 150,000 tons of cashew nuts, making the country the world’s fourth-ranked producer and the second in Africa after Côte d’Ivoire. (Macauhub/GW)