Blossoming, History and Economy of the Cashew

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By Dr. Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle
Bellevision Media Network

Moodubelle, 11 April 2010: During the months of February and March,  cashew trees come to life with bunches of flowers and gradually manifest their nut yielding capacity by dangling tiny raw cashew fruit also known as cashew apples with nuts attached below. With the passage of time these cashew apples and nuts grow in size. While the nuts uniformly acquire grey colour, the juicy cashew apples turn into either red or yellow depending on the nature of the tree. While passing below the blossoming cashew trees one can experience the aroma of cashew flowers or the ripened cashew fruits as the case may be.

Among the assortment of dry fruits, cashew nut occupies an important position. It is also an ingredient in different cuisines of various cultures and is third among the most consumed tree nuts in the world. Cashew nut is also used in the grounded form that is called cashew butter. The cashew seed has a high level of oil content in it which has industrial uses.

Cashew is a small medium sized tree with a single trunk and branches with thick leaves that has been found mostly in tropical regions of the world. The sweet flavoured nuts like seeds are obtained from the bottom of the cashew apples. The outer covering of the seeds are toxic and have to be removed.

 It is widely believed that cashew originated in Brazil in South America. It was the Portuguese who introduced cashew plantation in Goa for the first time in the 16th century for wine and brandy production. Another use of the cashew plantation was to control soil erosion.  The climate of Goa and the coastal region is well suited to the cashew plantation. However, the potential of the commercial advantage of the cashew was not known at that time. But, it has now become an important cash crop wherever it has been grown.

Cashew generally grows in the hot and humid regions of the world near the equator like Central and South America, India, Africa and Oceanic zone. Appropriate level of rainfall is important for the growth of cashew plants.  Cashew trees grow well in sandy type of soil.  In India, cashew is mostly planted in the months of June, July and August, considered to be ideal time for the sowing of the cashew seeds.

Until recently, cashew was propagated only through seeds whose yield has not been much. Higher and early yield can be obtained through the technique of vegetative propagation like grafting.  As cashew cannot withstand water stagnation or flooding, adequate drainage should be provided. Thus, sloppy hill sides are ideal for cashew cultivation. Harvesting of cashew is done generally from March to May. Usually the matured cashew apples along with the nuts are harvested to save time. Then the nuts are separated from the apples and sundried for 1-2 days and stored before selling off in the market. Juice from the cashew apple should be extracted within 24 hours before the rotting sets in. Machines are also available for extracting juice from the apples which is usually used in the preparation of country liquor known as ‘Arrack’ or  ’ Feni ’ , a popular drink of Goa.

Cashew has been commercially produced in more than 32 countries of the world. India is the second largest producer of raw cashew and occupies the first position among the largest cashew kernel producing countries and also in the maximum area covered by the cashew cultivation. Currently 7.70 lakhs hectares of land in India is under cashew cultivation and India supplies around 55% of cashew kernels to the world market amounting around 4.6 lakhs tons per annum.

Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal are the major states that have cashew cultivation. In Karnataka, the cashew cultivation is predominantly done in the coastal region, especially in the slopes of hills. India earns good amount of foreign exchange by exporting cashews. Cashew ranks second among the horticultural commodities exported from India. Besides, cashew industry also provides employment to around 3 lakhs people in the country.


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Comments on this Article
Victor D almeida, Moodubelle/Bahrain Sat, April-17-2010, 2:00
During our childhood days, we are waiting for the Maundy Thursday to come and to have our delicious sweet Vourn[payasam] with fresh cashew nut kernels tastes really good, Kaju Fenny is made from the fermented juice of cashew fruit. I remember those days Kaju Fenny used as medicine specially for children and even elders, by soaking crushed herbal roots in the fenny, when children gets common colds and flu, one tea spoon is very effective, even today some families using this herbs with other liquors. Goans are the Masters in Fenny making nobody can beat them, good fenny contain 42% alcohol volume.The liquor produced from cashew is of three grades: Urrac, Cazulo and Feni.In our Kattingeri Village late Pandit Kukera Markala used to supply those herbs and medicine to add with fenny, The nut oil is used topically as an antifungal and for healing cracked heels, nuts are an excellent source of protein and fiber.
Edward Menezes, Bantakal/Bahrain Mon, April-12-2010, 8:55
Among all the sweet memories of Mangalore,Cashew is also one,During summer when ever I go on vacation,I eat Cashews,Thank you Dr.Eugene for the short sweet artical,we really miss the green green grass of home.Edward Family
Francis L.Lobo, Belle( DubaI) Mon, April-12-2010, 6:17
Dr Eugine will make us home sick by writing such nice articles.Thanks for Mr.Sabys nice comments.Yalla Bale Parka Gonkuda!!!!
FRANCIS NOEL LOBO, Goan villa, Moodubelle Sun, April-11-2010, 8:23
Very good and informative article. credits to the writer and Team Bellevision. But be aware when eating this delicious cashews, it makes stains on our clothes!
Alfred Vincent Monis, Bantakal,Kingdom of Bahrain Sun, April-11-2010, 5:00
Thank you Dr. Eugene, Very good article, keep writing and waiting for some natures photographs from you.
Ronald Sabi, Moodubelle Sun, April-11-2010, 3:04
Nice article. Reminds the olden golden quote -Parka Parkaa yedde Gonkudaaa....
Edward Barboza, Kanajar/Auckland Sun, April-11-2010, 2:20
Thanks for the interesting, informative article and good pictures. It reminds me my childhood days where I use to collect ( Dusryancha Rukachye ) play and sell. We saw different articles posted by B.V about Dubai which were really interesting especially the photographs. Even though we had been in Dubai, we did not see such spectacular photographs. Thanks to Dr. Eugene and team.
JAY, US Sat, April-10-2010, 4:08
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