Forests falling for cashew monocultures: A ‘repeated mistake’ in Côte d’Ivoire (commentary)

Forests falling for cashew monocultures: A ‘repeated mistake’ in Côte d’Ivoire (commentary)

Farmers in northern Côte d’Ivoire are full of praise for cashew, the Brazilian nut tree introduced in the 1960s – ironically, it turns out – to combat deforestation. They rhapsodize about its ease of production compared to cotton, that although still grown, once formed the heart of the rural economy. And they love the development cashew has brought. “Before cashew came, there were no roads, no electricity. When it came, life changed. It is not as hard work as cotton. People are coming back from the city,” says farmer Traore Lakseni. “It allows me to support my family. With cotton, I worked very hard but was still poor. Cashew is a tree that produces without me doing very much,” says farmer Soro Torna. Soro Torna is one of 410,000 small scale farmers who cultivate a total of 1.6 million hectares of cashew in Côte d’Ivoire: each has on average 3-5 hectares. Photo courtesy of Cathy Watson /CIFOR-ICRAF. Officials are equally positive, smitten by cashew’s meteoric rise. Côte d’Ivoire became the world’s largest exporter of raw cashew nuts in 2015, a staggering achievement for a country that is already the world’s biggest producer of cocoa. “This was a disfavored area,” says Kone Issouf, head of the Cotton and Cashew Council in the far north district of Korhogo on the border with Mali.  “All the young men now have motorbikes.” “Vietnamese and Indians are everywhere,” says Diakalidia Kone, President of cashew cooperative FENECASI, referring to the buyers rushing around the town: 94%…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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