Agriculture in Guinea Bissau
Guinea-Bissau is located in West Africa, between 10◦59′–12◦20′ N and 13◦40′–16◦43′ W, sharing frontiers with Senegal and the Republic of Guinea. It has an estimated population around 2 million , 25% of which reside in the capital Bissau while 60% live in rural areas. The country can be divided into four geomorphological zones, i.e., the Bijagós archipelago; the low lying coastal region dissected by intricate networks of rivers and waterways; a transitional zone characterized by woodlands to the limits of the tidal range; and the dryer slightly elevated savannah plains with outliers of the Futa Jallon mountains located in the neighbouring Republic of Guinea. The rainy season spans the months of June to October, dominating the agricultural calendar. Unlike precipitation the temperature in Guinea- Bissau is subject to minor variations although the average monthly temperature varies regularly throughout the year, with maximum values between April (28.5 º C) and May (28.7 º C) and minimum values between December and January (25.4 º C) The agri-food sector plays a central role in Guinea-Bissau’s economy, being the largest contributor to GDP (almost 50 percent). Agriculture is today the biggest source of wealth in Guinea-Bissau but is also the cause of major environmental problems. Although it is hard to establish a conclusive correlation between agricultural expansion and deforestation, data show that the country’s tree cover was reduced by almost 80,000 ha between 2001 and 2014. In turn, the area cultivated in cashew increased by 35,000 ha (2002-2013) and the area cultivated in rice increased by 52,000 ha in the same period. Over 75 percent of the population in Guinea-Bissau depends on the agricultural sector as a source of livelihood In terms of their economic importance, only a few species such as cashew are exclusively grown as a cash crop. Nevertheless, carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, maize, papaya, pineapple, pumpkin, limes, oranges, bananas, plantains, yams, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, tamarind, okra, roselle, and sesame seeds are all grown and sold—as well as processed derivatives—on rural and/or urban markets.
Rice is the major crop and staple food. Some crops such as cashew are sold on markets but not consumed by producers - Cashew is a principal export commodity in Guinea-Bissau. Presently, cashew accounts for 90% of the country’s export revenues and 10% of GDP. Given that only 4% of cashew production is processed nationally, the remaining cashew nut harvest is exported in unprocessed form, thus limiting value addition and returns The reliability of production and export data is affected by substantial underreporting owing to widespread cross-border smuggling networks with Senegal.In the case of Guinea-Bissau, the introduction of cashew on a large scale provoked changes in the country’s agro-economy, cultivation patterns, and value chains.
Cashew trees have a much wider local appeal, for example through their phototherapeutic applications, based on the use of root, bark, and leaves appreciated for their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Moreover, the existence of a vesicant liquid in the mesocarp of the kernel (Cashew Nutshell Liquid, CNSL) has also aroused some commercial interest. At local level, the cashew apple, a pseudocarp, and its many derivatives, including cashew juice, wine, and brandy (mainly marketed by women from non-Islamized groups in coastal areas) provide subsistence producers with additional income during the dry season. They conduct a lively trade in cashew wine and brandy or ‘kana’ in rural and, above all, urban markets; revenues account for a significant portion of seasonal income. While these derivatives illustrate the importance of internal value chains based upon cashew, despite its nutritious properties the inclusion of cashew in local diets continues to be limited.
Just like the peanut monoculture in colonial times, the rapid expansion of cashew trees and the country’s almost exclusive dependence on its export revenue, has raised pertinent questions on the disturbance of the country’s fragile ecosystems, traditional farming systems, livelihoods, and the country’s economy.
In Guinea Bissau, the livestock sub-sector contributes more than 17% to the formation of GDP. It is one of the main economic activities and support for food security for these people whose livelihoods are based on rainfed agriculture affected by climate change. The national livestock census in Guinea-Bissau conducted in 2009 indicated that the country has 1,121,555 cattle, 304,104 sheep and 646,183 goats. Although recent data are not available, the country's herd is growing rapidly. This livestock is mainly concentrated in the north and east of the country, particularly in Gabù, Bafatà and Oio regions, which are home to 86% of the livestock, of which 47% in Gabù, 20% and 19% in Bafatà 19%. Small ruminants (sheep and goats) follow roughly the same distribution as cattle. In order, they are found in Gabú (36.5%), Oio (24.7%) and Bafatá (18.4%). These three regions account for 79.6% of the national small ruminant.
The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) runs along 270 km of coastline and has 105.740 square kilometres for a continental shelf of 45 000 km². The fisheries sector is one of the most important for the country’s economy and directly employs around 15 000 people or indirectly 120 000 workers. Fishing contributes to about 7-10% to GDP and around 3.9% in exports contributing with 40% to the state budget (The World Bank, 2018). Fishing in Guinea- Bissau has a potential estimated at around 523 160 tons, corresponding to a pelagic potential of around 212 500 tons and demersal (bottom dwelling) species equal to 310 660 tons. Artisan fishery accounts to about 35 000 t (2010). Artisan fishery has incorporated some technical innovations, such as certain kinds of nets, new refrigeration techniques and, mostly, motorization with the introduction of outboard motors. This fishery is done in a complex, fragile and mobile marine ecosystem.