Researchers return to Guinea-Bissau

Published Monday, 12th November 2018 in Research news

Professor Andrew Barnes and Dr Henry Creissen (centre) join staff and students from the University Jean Piaget Bissau and the University of Lisbon to discuss a new Agronomy course
Professor Andrew Barnes and Dr Henry Creissen (centre) join staff and students from the University Jean Piaget Bissau and the University of Lisbon to discuss a new Agronomy course

Researchers from SRUC recently visited Guinea-Bissau as part of their Academy of Medical Sciences/Global Challenges Research Fund project on diversification within cashew production.

Guinea-Bissau is one of the world’s poorest countries. Predominantly an agriculturally based economy, it is mostly reliant on one crop: the cashew nut.

This was the team’s second visit to Guinea-Bissau, with their trips timed to cover both the dry and rainy seasons, when cashew is plentiful and scarce respectively (known as the hunger gap), to explore food security issues around barriers to diversification and nutritional deficiency.

Their main aim was to establish research networks for larger follow on proposals, but also provide expertise for the development of an agricultural degree course with partners at the University Jean Piaget in Guinea-Bissau.

The team also met with The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Trade Centre (a member of the World Trade Organization) to gather data for analysis and establish working relationships for further work in Western Africa.

The team took the chance to visit Bolama, a populated island off the coast of Guinea Bissau where cashew was first introduced, with researchers from the University of Lisbon to understand the severity of the spread of the gummosis disease currently threatening the country’s cashew crop.

Professor Andrew Barnes, who travelled to Africa alongside Dr Henry Creissen and Joana Ferreira, said: “The results of this visit further emphasised the importance of diversification within cropping systems. The project benefits from a multi-disciplinary approach, with experts in agronomy, agricultural and ecological economics working to provide solutions for developing low-income countries.”

The week finished with a workshop involving UniPiaget Bissau staff and students, producer associations and applied researchers working within agriculture to discuss plans for the new Agronomy course at the university and initial findings of the research. The meeting was chaired by the Rector of UniPiaget Bissau and in-country project lead, Dr Aladje Balde.

To find out more about the project, email Andrew.barnes@sruc.ac.uk

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