Description: Cashew (Anacardium Occidentale L.) is a tree crop of considerable economic importance to Nigeria and other tropical countries. Apart from being a source of useful products and byproducts for food, medicinal and industrial applications, cashew gives also a useful shade, while ornamental and alley trees are suitable for the control of soil erosion, particularly for the protection of watersheds and dams.
Harvest: Cashew nut setting begins in the middle of dry season, while harvesting takes place mainly in February or March. The entire harvest period occupies about 16 weeks. In the Eastern and Western parts of the country, where quality cashew nuts are grown, nuts are allowed to drop to the ground before they are collected. This practice ensures that only ripe nuts are collected. Nuts normally fall to the ground with their apples attached; the two are normally separated with a twisting action during collection. The remnants of the apple flash adhering to the nuts are removed with a sharp knife. After picking, the nuts are dried in the sun for 2 to 3 days, to reduce their moisture content to about 12 %. Properly dried nuts are packed in jute bags and can be kept for 6 to 10 months, if stored in suitable condition.
Locations: Major cashew growing areas in Nigeria are, by order of importance: Enugu, Abia, Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi and Cross River States in the eastern part of the country; Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and Ogun States in the Western part, as well as Kwara, Kogi, Nassarawa, Benue, Taraba, Niger and FCT in the Middle Belt and also Sokoto and Kebbi States in the North West part of the country. The majority of export quality nuts come from the Western and Eastern parts of the country.
Specification: According to SGS (quality inspectors), the standard for raw cashew nuts, unshelled, is specified as follows:
i. Nut count 180-200 per kg
ii. Moisture content 8-10% max
iii. Defective nuts 15% max
iv. Float Rate 18% max
v. Admixture 0.25% max
vi. Foreign matter 0.25% max
vii. KoR, or shelling out-turn 48-50 Ibs/bag
(Obiazu, P. C.,(2000) ‘Quality Requirements for Nigeria Agricultural Products’. Unpublished Seminar Paper.)
Uses: The cashew nut is a popular snack, and its rich flavor means that it is often eaten on its own, lightly salted or sugared. In addition to this, cashew nutshell liquid (CNSL), a by-product of processing cashew, is mostly composed of anacardic acids. These acids have been used effectively against tooth abscesses due to their lethality to bacteria.
Export market: The major buyers of cashew nut from Nigeria are mainly India and Singapore. Smaller percentage goes to Europe.
Export price: The export free on board (fob) price of raw cashew nut varies from about USD 500-600/MT. However, when an exporter adds value to this product by processing it into kernels, the fob price could quadruple that of raw cashew nut.
Local price: The local price per metric tonne MT for raw cashew nuts delivered EXW Lagos (delivered in Lagos) varies from NGN40,000.00 during the peak season to about NGN80,000.00 at the off season.