|Authors: ||S. Muthu Kumar, V. Ponnuswami , K. Padmadevi|
|Keywords: ||cashew, industry, export, value addition|
Cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) often referred to as ‘wonder nut’, is one of the most valuable processed nuts traded on the global commodity markets and is also an important cash crop.
In India cashew is cultivated an area of 9, 23,000 ha with production of 613,000 MT and productivity of 0.7 MT/ha (Indian Horticulture Database, 2010). Maharashtra is leading in cashew production (198,000 MT) with 32.3% share.
It is cultivated widely throughout the tropics for its kernels.
In India, it is grown in the west coast, east coast and in a few plain areas in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.
The highest productivity is noticed in Maharashtra.
India is the largest producer of cashew in the world with 25.52% share in world production.
In India each metric ton of raw cashew seed produced and processed, yields about 230 kg (23%) of exportable grade kernels.
Cashew generates employment in the processing and agrarian sector of India employing over 3 lakh persons with more than 95% of them being women (DCCD, Cochin). Cashew is mainly cultivated in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The global area harvested under cashew increased by 665%, from 516,550 ha in 1961 to 3,953,175 ha in 2007 (FAO). The annual growth rate during this period was 4.55% with variations ranging from 8.22 to 20.08%. India is the premier exporter of cashew kernels and earns a sizeable amount of foreign exchange.
India is the second largest exporter after Vietnam, accounting for 34% of the world’s export of cashew kernels.
During 2009 India exported 446 million kg of cashew kernels.
The cashew tree plays an important role in maintaining the ecological balance of the dry regions, the cashew tree is multi-functional: apart from exportable cashew nuts, it supplies timber, firewood, medicines, fodder, etc.
By-products from cashew offer opportunities for development of local industry, the world market for cashews is dynamic, with sustained growth rates of approximately 10% per year and the nuts produced could receive the “organic” label as they are chemical free and get premium price.
Various value added products such as juice, fenny, wine, dried cashew apple, syrup and jam can be prepared from cashew apple which paves the wave for the development of cashew based industry and economic development of our country.
In major cashew growing areas of our country, natural farming is followed.
It is estimated that not more than 20% of cashew holdings in India use chemical fertilizers or pesticides (Sivaraman and Hubballi, 2002; Shalini Yadav, 2010). This facilitates adoption of organic farming practices over a period of time without additional efforts.
Thus, there is a vast potential of bringing these areas under organic farming practices to exploit the available marketing avenues.
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