Dr D Balasubramanian
Higher productivity within
sustainable agricultural systems is a requirement for economic development and
poverty alleviation in Africa. Cashew in particular can play an important role
in the livelihood of many resource-poor farmers, small traders and local
industries. In addition to the economic benefits of cashew to the farmers,
traders and associated industries, cashew growing has also ecological
advantages and play a vital role in stabilising and maintaining agricultural
environments. Cashew has major economic, social and environmental benefits, not
only for rural populations but also for the countries as a whole.
Position of raw nut production and trade
Cashew is grown exclusively in
tropical countries for domestic consumption and export up to 85% of processed
cashew kernels to temperate countries. It is produced commercially in as many
as 32 countries in the tropical regions of Asia, Africa and Latin American
located below equator. Total production in the world during the last fiscal was
around 44.15 lakh MT which is almost 19-fold growth in reference to base year
1961. Mozambique, an east African country, maintained its premier position in
early 60s and due to intervention of research and development in African
countries, cashew production registered two-fold increase i.e. 9.21 to 18.81
lakh MT during the last decade. Of late, Nigeria, one of the West African
countries, enhanced its production level on par with Vietnam and contributed
22% to the global production of cashew. Production in Ivory Coast has grown up
rapidly in recent years with a share of 10% in the world production.
Most of the cashew producing countries in East and West Africa are the major suppliers of raw cashewnut to India and are likely to remain as it is in the near future too, amidst strong competition from Vietnam and Brazil. Policy changes and revival of cashew processing facilities in Mozambique, its export quantity is restricted in the beginning of the century. While trading raw cashewnuts, coincidence of harvest season, quantity of production, quality assessment in terms of outturn and driage, farm gate price and tax levied at various levels, transit expenses in the importing countries plays decisive role in the business. Raw nut suppliers from Tanzania and Ivory Coast export throughout the year; thereby the importing countries are assisted in not carrying long-term stocks.
Global scenario of cashew production
Country Area (Lakh ha) Production (Lakh MT) Productivity (kg
Brazil 6.95 1.10 158
Burkina Faso 1.20 1.15 958
Cote d’ Ivoire 9.00 4.50 500
Guinea- Bissau 2.48 1.38 558
India 9.82 7.29 742
Indonesia 5.75 1.17 204
Nigeria 3.80 9.50 2500
Tanzania 4.11 1.28 312
Vietnam 3.011 1.11 3692
Others 6.92 3.88 560Total 54.47 44.15
Directorate of Cashew
and Cocoa Development, Cochin, Kerala (2015)
Mozambique and Tanzania are the
two major cashew growing countries in East Africa involved in processing.
During early 1970s, Mozambique acclaimed the premier position in production and
exportation of processed cashew kernels in the world approximating 2.4 lakh MT
per annum and became an exporter of significant volume of raw unprocessed nuts
later. However, the industry has rebounded with production level of
approximately 0.7 lakh MT of which 21% was domestically processed during the
year 2012. In a crucial departure from the previously failed approach that was
dominated by large-scale factories and use of mechanised technology, Mozambique
principally makes use of manual shelling technology to achieve higher whole
kernel outturn. However, the productivity of Mozambique’s factory workers is
well behind India’s and Vietnam’s as well as that of other African processing
industries such as Tanzania and Ivory Coast. Agro Industries Association plays
a vital role in exporting the processed cashew kernels under a brand
‘Zamibique.’ Monitoring mechanism is in place to regulate and standardise the
quality of pooled production for export and it is becoming a powerful tool for
generation of individual factory diagnosis. Tanzania’s cashewnut sector is well
positioned in the international market for raw cashewnuts, exporting 82% of
national production due to a combination of seasonality and price.
West Africa’s cashew processing
sector which includes countries like Benin, Burkino Faso, Ivory Coast, Gambia,
Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo is quite small given the
region’s status as the world’s second-largest producer of raw cashewnuts,
contributing 40% to the world production. Based on the usage of machinery and
processing quantity, cottage, semi-mechanised and fully automatic systems are
followed in West Africa and cost-effective, Indian semi-mechanised is gaining
momentum in recent times.
Although plain cashew kernels are
sold as such, few processors add value through secondary processing targeting
high-end consumers to recover their elevated processing costs. Many West
African processors remain largely reliant on local consumers due to limited
production of specific grade in bulk quantity for export to sustain operations
year-round. West Africa’s position as a raw nut exporter may change in the near
future, as processing capacity is growing rapidly.
Cashew nuts are an upmarket snack
food and the demand is set to increase in view of its health benefits and the
rising purchasing power of emerging economies. Whole kernels without defects or
blemishes are required for the snack trade and the broken pieces are required
for other confectionery, biscuits and bakery products and other prepared foods.
Mostly plain cashew kernels are traded in the international market and
secondary level processing takes place at the importing countries mainly in the
United States of America and Europe for retail sale. As far as kernel market is
concerned, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya from East Africa and Nigeria and
Indonesia from West Africa supply comparatively large volume to other
countries. Either processing facilities have not been strengthened or
cost-effective system is not in place to manufacture cashew kernels for export
in the competitive global market.
Having regard to the hidden potential
of African cashew industry, network approach of involving all stakeholders in
the cashew value chain, certainly, resolve diversified issues. The overall
strategy of interventions should revolve around participative and contractual
approach to exploit enormous and varied opportunities offered by the cashew
industry in Africa. Achieving an
appropriate level of
diversification of risk for
farmers is important for long-term stability. In
semi-arid areas cashew can have a competitive advantage over some other food
crops. But it is of paramount importance that there should be right balance
between food security and diversity of cash crops.
The cultivation and collection of
cashew nuts are labour-intensive activities, having the capacity to create
employment, increase rural earnings and earn foreign exchange. Therefore,
public and private sectors should gear up their activities to provide strong
support to the cashew industry as a whole.
In the era of the commodity board, production of quality material can be
encouraged through assessment and valuation by the cashew commodity board.
Cashew is a versatile crop with
unlimited potential for growth and exports in Africa or elsewhere. At present,
cashew kernels are the only items that have been fully exploited commercially.
Full utilisation of its byproducts viz., cashew apple, CNSL, cashew testa and
cashew shell will lead to a higher realisation of income for farmers and cashew
processor-exporters. Currently, Africa will probably forecast an increasing
market for raw cashewnuts. But sooner or later, increased cashew orchard in
Vietnam and Brazil will reduce this demand, leaving India again as the first
and last customer.