A drop in the prices of cashew nut globally is impacting the operations of cashew nut farmers in Ivory Coast.
Rich in taste and filled with protein, the cashew nut is a familiar ingredient in meals, and other food products such as cashew butter.
But cashew nut farmers in Yamoussoukro, the political capital of Ivory Coast say they have been struggling to sell their yields, with an estimated 150,000 tonnes of stockpiles of bags lying around in warehouses.
We used to sell our cashew at a high price and would benefit from the sales. But I must say we have been experiencing some serious challenges this year.
“The cashew industry is really in bad shape, it’s in bad shape. We used to sell our cashew at a high price and would benefit from the sales. But I must say we have been experiencing some serious challenges this year. The price of cashew has been fixed at 500 francs (0.88 US cent) per kilo. Since February up to today, we have been experiencing a lot of challenges. We no longer have partners because they are all gone. Now we only have unreliable buyers who give us a very low price. Meaning 250 Francs (0.44 US cents), 200 Francs (0.35 US cents), despite the fact that our cashew is of high quality”; said Cashew nut farmer, Souleymane Bamba.
International prices for cashews have dropped by nearly half since March after consumers in the United States and Saudi Arabia objected to high prices.
Ivory Coast is the world’s top cashew nut producer with output of 770,000 tonnes expected this year.
Adama Coulibali is General Manager of the Ivory Coast cotton and cashew council.
“Unfortunately, we only have two clients. There is Vietnam, which takes around 70 per cent of cashew exports. India, which takes around 28 per cent of our exports, and Brazil which takes around 2 per cent. And when there are difficulties in a country like Vietnam, then it has a negative impact on our sales and exports”, he said.
Ivory Coast’s cashew sector employs about 450,000 growers and has been an important source of economic growth.
Authorities are hoping to increase the country’s processing capacity from the current 100,000 tonnes per year to at least 300,000 tons by 2020 in order to make the sector less vulnerable to international market swings, Coulibaly said.