Beta Group, the Kerala-based food company, which owns the Nut King brand, will be setting up an industrial unit in the West African country of Guinea-Bissau for cashew business.

The company is all set to sign a $100 million MoU with the Government of Guinea-Bissau over a period of five years to procure, process, and export value-added cashew, mainly to the US and China markets, said J Rajmohan Pillai, Chairman, Beta Group.

Nabissco Commodities, a subsidiary of the group, was one of the first companies to import cashew from Guinea Bissau, which is the second-largest cashew producer in West Africa. It is one of the world’s largest producers of raw cashew nuts, and the cashew sector has acquired enormous importance in the country’s economy. The estimated area under cashew cultivation is 223,000 hectares with an annual production of 230,000 tonnes, making Guinea-Bissau the fifth largest producer in the world.

Presently, cashew is by far the most important cash crop in Guinea-Bissau, representing 60 per cent of the country’s exports and the main source of income in rural areas, involving to a varying extent about 80 per cent of the population.

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Most of the cashew nut produced in Guinea-Bissau is exported to India to be processed there, and only a small fraction is processed locally. Quoting reports, he said, the estimated processing capacity installed in the country is about 15,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts per year (9 per cent of the estimated production of the country) and about 25,000 tonnes as the projected processing capacity for the near future.

Developing a reputation as a supplier requires stringent quality control, certification to recognized standards of decortication practices and development of a brand in which buyers will have confidence in terms of quality and regular supplies, which Beta will provide, he added.

Officials in the Ministry of Commerce of Guinea Bissau expressed confidence that the new phase of action by Beta Group will function as an impetus to cashew farmers, cashew traders, and cashew exporters of Guinea Bissau.

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