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Information @ a Glance

General
  • The Cashew (Anacardium occidentale) is a tree in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The plant is native to northeastern Brazil, where it is called by its Portuguese name Caju (the fruit) or Cajueiro (the tree). It is now widely grown in tropical climates for its cashew "nuts" and cashew apples.
  • It is a small evergreen tree growing to 10-12 m tall, with a short, often irregularly-shaped trunk. The leaves are spirally arranged, leathery textured, elliptic to obovate, 4-22 cm long and 2-15 cm broad, with a smooth margin. The flowers are produced in a panicle or corymb up to 26 cm long, each flower small, pale green at first then turning reddish, with five slender, acute petals 7-15 mm long.

Growth And Cultivation

  • Cashew flourishes in the hot, dry tropics around sea level. It has an extensive root system and deep taproot, and grows well even in sandy soils with low fertility. The trees now grow wild in some places outside of their native habitat.

  • In plantations, the trees should be spaced about 10-15 m (35-50 ft) apart. They require good drainage, friable soils, low elevation (up to 1000 m or 3300 ft), rainfall of about 1000-2000 mm (40-80 in) per year, and a pronounced dry season of three to four months. Cashew can tolerate a wide pH range and even salt injury. Many cashew groves are intercropped with coconut or annual crops. Cashew can be grown from about 25° South of the equator to 25° North, although not on a commercial-scale level at the extreme latitudes. Most of the regions where it is an economically important crop are between 15° South and 15° North.

Processing

  • Processing of cashewnuts refers to the conversion of raw cashewnuts in shell to its blanched graded kernel form. The processing units are mainly concentrated in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Orissa. Methods includes Drum roasting, Oil bath roasting, Steam roasting. A general comparison of the above three methods would show that the oil bath method and steam roasting systems require more initial investment and higher maintenance costs: the drum roasting method being the cheapest.

Uses

  • The cashew nut is a popular dessert nut, eaten out of hand, with other mixed nuts and used in baking and confections. Sixty percent of cashews are consumed as salted nuts. It is also made into cashew butter and nut milk. The nut is high in protein, oil and also vitamins, especially thiamin. The nut makeup is 47% fat, 21% protein, and 22% carbohydrate. Alcohol production is another use of the apple. It is used to flavor Madeira wine and various other liquors.

  • The cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL) is used in brake linings of cars because it absorbs heat efficiently. CNSL is also used in preserving and waterproofing, and in paints, enamels and lacquers. The CNSL also has been used to treat scurvy, warts, ringworm, and even for tattooing. 

Market

  • India, Brazil and Vietnam are the top exporters of processed cashew nuts worldwide. India, Brazil and Vietnam import raw cashew nuts, principally from Africa, in order to supplement domestic raw nut production. World imports of shelled cashew nuts increased nearly 300 percent in volume terms from the largest global importer of processed cashew nuts, accounting for an average of 20 percent of world imports. India accounted for 55 percent of world imports; Netherlands (6 percent), Germany (3 percent), the United Kingdom (2 percent), Japan (2 percent) and Australia (2 percent). Important emerging market regions include the Middle East and South Asia.

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