UNITED NATIONS, July 26 (Reuters) – Guinea Bissau’s cashew production – the poor West African state’s top revenue earner – will drop by half this year due to turmoil following April’s military coup, while drug trafficking is on the rise, the United Nations said on Thursday.
U.N. special envoy for Guinea Bissau Joseph Mutaboba said that according to the president of the Guinea Bissau Farmers Association the 2012 crop was forecast to drop to about 100,000 tonnes “as a result of the April 12 coup.”
“This is particularly disturbing when one considers that cashew production accounts for 90 percent of the country’s income and the sector employs almost 80 percent of the labor force, according to official sources,” Mutaboba told the U.N. Security Council during a briefing on the Guinea Bissau crisis.
Guinea Bissau has been in turmoil since soldiers seized power, derailing a presidential election in the latest of a string of military interventions in the country’s politics since independence from Portugal in 1974. The military junta announced late May that if had handed power back to civilian leaders.
Guinea Bissau, wedged between Guinea and Senegal on West Africa’s coast with a population of about 1.6 million, is among the world’s poorest countries and is also struggling to contain growing drug trafficking.
“The transitional authorities have reported a wave of criminal activities in Bissau and have blamed the lack of policing resources for this situation,” said Mutaboba. “There have also been reliable reports that since April 12, drug trafficking activities have increased in the country.”
The coup has set back Western efforts to combat drug cartels using Guinea Bissau, which has become a key hub for Latin American cocaine being shipped into Europe. The United States and others have said army officials are implicated in the trade.
The U.N. Security Council in May imposed a travel ban on leaders of the April 12 military coup.
Mutaboba said there were still deep divisions within the country and internationally over the political transition in Guinea Bissau and the country lacked support from traditional partners such as the African Development Bank, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Anthony Boadle)