Did you know that Mozambique was once the world’s leading producer of cashew kernels…until civil war and the World Bank came along?
Let no one tell you otherwise, Africa was greatly exploited during the colonial era. Africans were used as slaves to work as labourers and cultivate important cash crops and mine mineral resources which were exported to the home countries of our colonial masters. The various countries on the continent were so much exploited that one would not be wrong to trace the wealth of Europe and America to the African continent.
Despite all the colonial masters gained from Africa, when we demanded independence, they left our shores but sowed seeds of discord amongst our people that caused Africans to fight among themselves. After the colonial era, many African countries engaged in fierce civil wars that led to the loss of millions of lives.
Again, do not be deceived; this was all orchestrated by the colonial masters so that the African countries will not discover or pay attention to the looting that has occurred in the continent and result to arms against the colonial masters. Mind you, if the colonial masters didn’t see Africans as a threat, they would never have left the continent in the first place.
During the colonial era and even after its independence in 1975, Mozambique was on record as the world's leading producer of cashew. Apart from the raw cashew, the country had a lot of processing plants and processed cashew kernels were the country's biggest export commodity.
Mozambique was colonized by Portugal until 1974 when the dictator, Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was overthrown and the Portuguese fled; leading to the country’s official declaration of independence.
As was the case in almost every African country, Mozambique was entangled in the cords of civil war which lasted for 16 years. Civil wars in Africa are as much the faults of our colonial masters as it is ours.
By the end of the civil war in 1992, cashew production in the country has drastically reduced. The national cashew orchard had a high proportion of old or diseased trees and state-owned processing plants badly needed new investment.
The country thought that succor had come when the World Bank offered to help revive the dead cashew industry in the country with the promise of taking Mozambique back to its pride of place. Little did they know that it would worsen the situation.
The World Bank carried out its research and offered the prescription of “privatize, and then trade freely”. So in accordance with the advice of the World Bank, the country owned Cashew Company was broken up and sold off in 1994-95.
Indigenous Mozambican companies wasted no time in buying the processing plants because they were assured of government’s continued protection from foreign competition, but this was not the case.
In late 1995, as a condition for over US$ 400 million in loans, the World Bank demanded the liberalization of the raw cashew trade. This was the beginning of the end of the cashew industry in the country and what I have termed the outright sale of Mozambique’s cashew empire.
By late 1998, 10 of the 15 sizable processing factories had closed, with over 5,000 workers laid off. The case has not improved much since then.
Like in many other African countries, what the World Bank succeeded in doing was worsen an already bad situation. It is worrisome that there is hardly any country in the African continent that has successfully completed its adjustment program with a return to sustained growth.
The policies and loans of the World Bank often lead to nowhere or dead-end.
It is obvious that the more the World Bank interferes in Africa, the more Africa’s poverty increases.
Header Image Credit: Brand Spur
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