The History Of The Cashew Industry In Africa

Central Africa production that is practically impossible in most other countries with low soil fertility and highly infested plantations and mandatory chemical control measures. This quality parameter endears Nigerian cashew nuts to foreign and local processors.”

Ghana sees steady growth from cashews as well as Guinea Bissau, to name a few.

Vietnam is still experiencing quick growth from cashew growing according to an economic study by Lateef Hammed of the Federal University of Agriculture.

Nigeria comes in 2nd to Vietnam with cheaper cashews, the other modern-day cashew high rollers are India, Brazil, and China.

Cashew trees are hearty and can withstand harsh climates and less care. Brasil introduced new genotypes that were larger and more productive in the 1990s, which boosted the entire industry worldwide.

The cashew nut goes way back. You may enjoy it’s creamy, sweet texture in many foods, like butter or just plain raw. The cashew is healthy and delicious, and as a crop, it is literally money growing on trees.

The cashew nut grows in many places in the world because it is a prolific and hearty tree which can withstand many harsh climates.

The cashew nut is a rising star cash crop in Africa. For the last 50 years, it has slowly transformed the state of the economy in the places which grow it as a crop to sell worldwide. The real demand for cashews began because India, the world’s leading cashew producer, needed more cashews to supplement it’s own growing population.

The Portuguese traders brought the nut to Africa circa the 16th century. Long Before the full potential of the nut was tapped into as a source of economic gain, the tree was found growing wild throughout parts of Africa and used as a food source.  

Nigeria and the Cashew

Nigeria is the second most productive nation when it comes to cashew nut production which spreads across many states in the country. There are other crops grown there as well. You can find palm-oil, cocoa and rubber as well but the main crop now is definitely cashews.

I find it interesting that cashews grown in Nigeria are considered organic. This is not the case in other places where the criteria of organic certification standards are not met and therefore those cashews cannot carry the organic label. This adds to the quality and value of the Nigerian cashew, even though they are considered some of the cheapest in the world. By cheap, I obviously mean less costly and not of poor quality. 

How  the Cashew Nut and Tree grows

The Cashew nut comes from a tree that bears a woody, pulpy fake fruit about the size of an apple. In fact, they are called cashew apples and they go through a range of color transformations as the apple matures. The cashew apple seems to change from green to yellow to orange and finally to a light apple red color when it is ripe. Many places use the fruit to make a cheap wine as it isn’t really edible like apples that we are used to. The Cashew tree is also known as the Anacardium Occidentale and is actually an evergreen tree. The seed of the cashew is the “nut” and develops at the bottom of the cashew apple, If you look at the fruit with the nut still attached, you will see the cashew-shaped casing (this is actually the fruit if the tree) where the cashew seed is located at the bottom of the fruit. Pretty pink and white flowers bloom on the tree and they smell wonderful. The tree grows pretty tall. Tree heights can range from around 20-40 feet high. If you haven’t figured it out yet, you can tell now that it is inaccurate to call the cashew a nut because it is actually a seed of the tree’s fruit!

The cashew’s only real main requirements are at least six hours of full sun a day and a soil ph of 5 to 6.5. The tree can take some cold weather but not really too much below freezing for too long. Beware of the leaves and really all parts of the tree because it is related to poison ivy and poison sumac and can actually cause you some serious skin irritation if you have sensitive skin. The seed casing and fruit are also caustic so proper equipment must be used in processing and handling. As stated in Matt’s earlier article, explorers in cashew growing regions in South America did not discover cashews because they are, indeed, poisonous on the outside. In most cases with commercial crop cashew processing this means fire is needed to extract the fruit from within. The fruit must be burned off of the cashew seed.

The warm, sunny climate which cashew trees thrive in and make it a perfect growing environment in countries like Brazil, India and Nigeria.