A young bricklayer in Kwara State, simply identified as Alaba, was getting frustrated in 2015 because his craft was not fetching him enough money to take proper care of himself and his family. He was contemplating on what to do when an idea struck him. It was in March 2015, and the idea was planting cashew trees. It flashed as he saw some cashew plantation owners smiling to the bank. Olam Edible Nuts, a cashew processing company located at Ogbondoroko, a suburb of Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, off Afon road, through its various aggregators, was buying a kilogramme at the rate of N600.
Alaba then made a decision to start cashew cultivation, left his wife and kids in the suburb and moved to his home town, a border village between Kwara and Kogi states, where the community land is available for members of the village to farm.His cashew trees, on three acres of land, are now fruiting. He said he was fascinated into this partly because the plantation maintenance is much more cost-effective than a cocoa plantation, and could allow him to intercrop with food crops to support his family.Dr Akin Olonihuwa, a former provost of Kabba College of Agriculture, Kogi State, while stating the requirements for and techniques of modern cashew cultivation, said the basic requirements include well drained land; high quality seeds or seedlings; committed and experienced workers; equipment tractors, trucks or trailers. Good security, he added, is also essential to prevent stealing, especially at the harvest periods.Improved varieties of cashew take 24 months to fruit, and these are Brazilian Jumbo and Indian Dwarf, he told The Guardian.“The Indian dwarf variety will give you 1.5 tonnes per hectare, while Brazilian Jumbo will yield one tonne per hectare. The only difference is that the nut count for Brazilian Jumbo is more attractive than Indian Dwarf variety,” he said.
Like cocoa, cashew yield would increase as they age, especially after six years. The two varieties are available in Nigeria Cashew Desk in Federal Ministry of Agriculture links people to sources of good seedlings, Olonihuwa explained to The Guardian.Population per hectare
The conventional spacing of cashew trees is 10 X 10 meters apart, which would approximately give 100 trees per hectare of land. In modern techniques, with good consultation, 7 X 7 metres spacing could be used. That will result in 177 plants per hectare, according to Olonihuwa. However, the Regional Research Station of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India, says conventional spacing method using 7x7m would give a plant population of about 200 per hectare; high density planting using 5x4m would give about 500 per hectare while the ultra high density planting spacing of 4x2m would give about 1,000 trees per hectare.The research station says technologies employed in ultra density cashew plantations include drip irrigation, fertigation, pruning, foliar application and pest/disease management.
The Indian institute says pruning (trimming of stems and branches) includes removal of terminal buds at 60-70m height to induce lateral branching, trimming of the first, the second and the third tier branches. Drip irrigation is used in the dry season to keep the plants hydrated. This requires a deep well or a borehole facility, overhead tank and irrigation pipes laid across the plantation.Drip irrigation and fertigation
“Drip irrigation saves water, helps in weed control and enhances 50% higher yield,” Regional Research Station says. Fertigation, meaning the use of soluble fertilizer through the drip irrigation, also boosts the economics of cashew production in the ultra high density system. Adequate micronutrients are supplied regularly to the plants via water.
Foliar applications of pesticides
The research station also recommends “foliar application of 1.0% mono ammonium phosphate and 0.1% borer micronutrient mixture during flowering seasons, and during fruit set, foliar application of 3.0% Panchakavya.” Foliar applications of pest-control chemicals are also done to at certain times to controls diseases and pests.To protect cashew against tea mosquito bug, the research centre recommends to “First spray (December – January) Profenophos 50 Ec – 1ml/lit; second spray (January – February) – Chlorpyriphos 20 EC – 2.5 ml/lit and third spray (February – March) – Carbaryl 50 % – 2 gm/lit.”