AFRICA-MADAGASCARCrisis in the kingdom of the cashew nut
“Today normal operations at the schools and some private institutions have resumed in Guinea Bissau, but the bulk of activity is paralyzed from the closure of the ministries and the strike that was called immediately after the coup by the central trade union”, said sources from Radio ‘Sol Mansi’, stressing that the crisis makes living conditions more difficult and complicates the delivery of basic services, such as in hospitals where the service is reduced to a minimum.
The crisis that began last April 12 – when the military took control of the country and arrested the prime minister and acting president – is hitting some crucial sectors of the national economy, particularly that of the cashew, which alone accounts for 80% of the country’s exports. “The harvest period began about ten days ago”, said Father Carlo ANDOLFI, Missionary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who has lived many years in Farim in the north, “ and will come to full speed in a couple of weeks. However farmers are getting very low prices such that many farmers are holding back from selling their crops in expectation of better times, while those who can try to travel to Senegal.” The cashew nut is the main crop in Guinea Bissau and the only export product: “Its harvest”, continues the missionary, “regulates the lives and welfare of thousands of families. Generally traders are foreigners, particularly from Mauritania, who buy the raw product from individual farmers, and then upload in containers at the port of Bissau. For now everything seems to be suspended, pending developments, rising prices and the reopening of the banks.”
The crisis is among the priorities of the Economic Community of West African countries (ECOWAS/ECOWAS) but it canceled a summit dedicated to it and previously scheduled for Monday in Conakry. ECOWAS has not endorsed the ‘transition’ that was inaugurated by the military in agreement with the opposition. [GB] (www.misna.org - Missionary International Service News Agency, 24 April 2012)