Cashew nuts are Guinea-Bissau’s greatest export crop however occasions are robust for farmers, as photojournalist Ricci Shryock studies.
Alciony Fernandez is from a household of cashew growers and has carried their newest batch to be weighed and bought at a store 30 minutes away, within the outskirts of the capital Bissau.
The nuts will fetch a worth of 350 CFA francs per kilo ($0.65; £0.45), the 14-year-old says.
Authorities-set costs for the crop have been slashed by near a 3rd since final 12 months, after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the provision chain.
Because the begin of the 12 months, cashew farmers in Guinea-Bissau had additionally been grappling with a tax for the primary time – at 15 CFA francs per kilo.
Exporters and merchants stated they had been struggling to purchase cashews due to the additional cost.
However some reprieve got here on the finish of final month, when the federal government eliminated the farmers’ tax – and lowered two different taxes on intermediaries and exporters.
The nation normally exports round 200,000 tonnes annually, however this dropped to 160,000 final 12 months. And there are but extra worries as the primary purchaser, India, is grappling with the Covid-19 disaster, says Mamadou Yerro Djamanca of the Cashew Exporters Affiliation of Guinea-Bissau.
A lot of the crop has been sitting in rural areas ready to be purchased and transported, he explains.
As soon as the rains begin, which is normally by late Might to mid-June, it turns into extraordinarily troublesome to move the crop alongside the nation’s slim dust roads as they typically flood or simply flip into mud.
Neia Nianta has a 1.5 hectare cashew farm simply outdoors Bissau which she harvests annually from March to June. She spends the times working from mid-afternoon till late within the night.
Cashew wine – made by squeezing the juice from cashew apples then fermenting it – is in style inside Guinea-Bissau.
Right here Neia units to work alongside Quinta Cabi. They are saying they will make round 5,000 CFA francs a day from promoting the regionally made brew.
“Final 12 months was higher – we bought extra wine and we bought it at a better worth,” she says, including this was due to the coronavirus lockdown.
“The work to press the cashews could be very tiring. First we go to the timber, search for the cashews, carry them again, separate the nuts from the fruit – then you definitely begin pounding the fruit.
“Generally we pound to fill 4 or 5 buckets. That makes 25 litres of wine.”
Kumus da Silva prefers to stay to the non-alcoholic model.
“This work is to make cashew juice – as a result of proper now there are a whole lot of cashews, so we aren’t utilizing all of them,” he says.
Staff at his small workshop sift out the juice, then put it into stamped bottles earlier than warming them in metallic barrels to forestall fermentation.
The shells need to be eliminated to make the juice, as Mr Da Silva demonstrates.
The primary 12 months he made cashew juice he didn’t make a revenue. However now, when his firm sells it to native eating places, it makes 500 CFA francs per bottle.
“We have to do advertising and marketing, as a result of folks do not search for it to purchase but. The problem is to make folks wish to drink it – as a result of there’s not a whole lot of demand,” Mr Da Silva says.
Whereas cashew merchandise stay in style as ever domestically, Guinea-Bissau’s export challenges over the approaching weeks will probably be essential for the fortunes of farmers’ and distributors alike.
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