History And Expansion Of The Cashew Economy Throughout Africa

Cashews are a growing business of a great product is stabilizing and growing the economy in many countries. Africa is slowly expanding the industry and coming up to be a worthy competitor to the worlds current top cashew producers, Vietnam and India. Cashew trees are hearty and can withstand harsh climates and less care. Brazil introduced new genotypes that were larger and more productive in the 1990s which boosted the entire industry worldwide.

Cashews Being Handled In Africa, Cashew Economy Throughout Africa

The cashew nut goes way back. You may enjoy its creamy, sweet texture in many foods, like butter or just plain raw. Eating a large amount of cashews is a good source of protein, iron, vitamin b-1, riboflavin, vitamin c and minerals. The cashew is healthy and delicious and as a crop, it is literally money growing on trees. The Portuguese traders brought the nut to Africa circa the 16th century. The tree was found growing wild throughout parts of Africa and used as a food source.  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 climate and conditions in Africa are particularly accommodating to the cashew tree, so naturally African cashews are considered the highest quality cashews in the world today.

Demand For African Cashews Worldwide

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 Africa’s cashews began because India, the world’s 3rd leading cashew producer. The cashew economy throughout Africa is third place behind the leader India and Vietnam. Africa is starting to consume more cashews to supplement its own growing population.

Ghana has experienced steady growth from the cashew industry and Ghana has experienced steady growth from the cashew industry and cashews are creating many new jobs as well as offering a stable boost to the country’s economy.  Because of Ghana’s central position among the many  ports along the coast, they have become a central hub for the cashew industry exporting for Cote D’ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Burkina Faso. Keeping with the cashew pace up the north western coastline of Africa is the country of Guinea Bissau. Cashew production is depended upon for the stability of 85% of the county’s population. Unfortunately, Guinea Bissau is also facing deforestation problems as the country continues to try and meet the demand of the growing cashew industry. For Guinea Bissau we see how bittersweet such success can be. It is the caustic stinging cashew pod  is  to its sweet cashew counterpart.

Nigeria Leading The Cashew Economy Throughout Africa

Of the countries that have farming in Africa, Nigeria is second worldwide in cashew nut production. The production and exportation of cashews spreads across twenty-seven states in the country. There are other crops grown there as well. You can also find healthy palm-oil, cocoa and rubber industries across the country. The main crop of Nigeria now is definitely cashews. It is important to note that the ecology of these 27 states remains key to the success of cashew crop production. The fickle cashew tree will only grow and flourish in woodland-tall-grass savanna and rainforest. We find most recent economic information puts Nigeria the second leading world producer of the cashew nut.

Interesting that cashews grown in Nigeria are considered organic. 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 many consider some of the cheapest and best tasting in the world. By cheap, I obviously mean less costly but not of lesser 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, farmers call the fruit, 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. Finally, to a light apple red color when it is ripe. Many places use the fruit to make a cheap wine which is a local drink in many growing regions.

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, when you look at the fruit. You will see the cashew-shaped casing (this is actually the fruit if the tree). 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.

What Africa Needs For The Cashew Plant To Grow

Diagram Of The Cashew Botany

The cashew’s only real main growing 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. Specifically, causing 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.

Explorers in the Amazon 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 processors use fire to separate the fruit from the cashew seed.

The Future Of Growing Cashews In Africa

The warm, sunny climate which cashew trees thrive in and make it a perfect growing environment in countries like Brazil, India, Vietnam and Nigeria. These countries continue to be leading producers and processors of cashews worldwide. The cashew economy throughout Africa continues to expand steadily and rapidly as cashew production continues to increase. Africa makes a great place for expanding the cashew growing industry. Because of the perfect requirements for cashew growing, in the future Africa may soon become the leader of cashew production for the world.