The cashew plant is a Brazilian genus that the Portuguese introduced to India in the 16th century. The fat content of a cashew nut is 16.9%, the carbohydrate content is 22.3%, and the protein content is 21.2 percent. Calcium, iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin C are all present, and it is nutritionally comparable to milk, eggs, and meat. It is a steady stimulant used in the production of wine, in addition to being a strong appetiser and an outstanding nerve tonic.
Cashew grows best in temperatures ranging from 16°C to 25°C, with annual rainfall ranging from 50 cm to 400 cm. It thrives in rocky and poor soils. Late rite (west coast) and sandy soils are used to develop cashew (east coast). From March to May, the fruits ripen. After three years, the plants begin to bear fruit, with an average yield of 865 kg. per hectare per year of raw cashew.
Roasting, shelling, and peeling the cashew nut releases the cashew kernel. If the nut is used to make paints and varnishes, the oil material oozes out from the rough outer coat. Similarly, cashew apple juice is used in the production of sugar, squash, jelly, and wines.
Cashew orchards cover about 6.86 lakh hectares of the country’s total cropped area, yielding about 5.2 lakh tonnes per year (Table ll.XXVI) (1999-00). It is primarily grown along the slopes of the hills in the western and eastern coastal regions. Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka account for more than 74% of the country’s total cashew output.
Kerala is a major cashew nut producer, accounting for 19.6% of the state’s total area and 19.2% of the country’s total output in 1999-00. (in 1993-94 40.3 percent ). In the talukas of Chirainkal, Kottarakara, Kunnathunad, Trichur, Kilimanoor, and Kunnamkulam, cashew is widely grown. Maharashtra takes first place with 14.1% of the land area and 24% of the country’s output, with Ratnagiri district being the largest producer.
East Godawari and Vishakhapatnam districts in Andhra Pradesh (19.2%) are significant producers. Karnataka, Orissa, Tamil Nadu (Tiruchchirappalli, Thanjavur, and South Arco districts), Goa, and West Bengal are also significant producers.
India is the world’s largest exporter of cashew nuts, and the commodity is the country’s largest source of foreign exchange. Our cashew kernels are exported to over 60 countries, with the majority of them going to the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia, Hungary, and the United Arab Emirates. India exported 43,600 tons of cashew kernels worth Rs. 19 crores in 1960-61, then 32,300 tons worth Rs. 140 crores in 1980-81, before rising to 92,400 tons worth Rs. 1652 crores in 2001-02. During the years 1999-2000,The export of 76,323 tones of cashew kernels (Rs. 1383.9 crores) and 4, 181 tones of cashew nut shell liquid (Rs. 6.74) crores received Rs. 1,390.64 crores ($ 374 million), accounting for 1.1 percent of India’s total export earnings.
India also imports unprocessed cashew nuts from Vietnam and West African countries to meet its export and domestic needs. The total import in 1970-71 was 1,69,400 tonnes priced at Rs. 29 crores, which increased to 2.56 lakh tonnes of raw cashew nuts in 1999-2000, resulting in a foreign exchange outflow of Rs. 1198 crores ($ 276 million).
To improve cashew quality and yield, the National Research Centre for Cashew (NRCC) in Puttur, Karnataka, has produced 25 high-yielding and early-bearing varieties. The cashew industry employs over 5 lakh people in farms and factories, the majority of whom are women from the lower socioeconomic classes. Its cultivation could become fashionable as a means of bringing about economic and social change. Even in wastelands, the crop can be grown.