Till late 1990s, India was the largest producer of raw cashew nuts(cashew nuts with shell) and largest exporter of processed cashew nuts in the world. Roasted Cashew nuts also used to be an important item of export from India.However India is now not so prominent in the world as an exporter.While India’s production of raw cashew went up only by about 50% from 420,000 MT in 1996 to 675,000 MT in 2011,Vietnam’s production increased by about 500% from 237000 MT to 12,72,000 MT during this period making Vietnam the largest producer in the world. Nigeria’s production went up by about 700% from 110,000 MT to 813000 MT, making Nigeria, the second largest producer behind Vietnam and ahead of India.India thus is only the third largest producer in the world.
The low increase in production in India is due to low yield. During the 15 year period from 1996 to 2011, in India the yield increased only marginally from 0.66MT per hectare, while in Nigeria it went up by about 400% from 0.63MT to 2.46 MT.The yield in Vietnam increased from 2.23MT to 3.84MT.
In India as much as 0.95 million hectare of land is under cashew while Vietnam and Nigeria each have only about 0.33 million ha under cashew.
In 2001, India was the largest exporter of roasted cashew nuts with exporters of about 90,000 MT when Vietnam’s exports were only 44000 MT. But in 2011, India’s exports were almost at the same level at 93,000 MT while Vietnam’s exports went up by 4 times to 195,000 MT.
Cashew tree starts yielding from about 3rd year and its life is about 35-40 years.
India should consider measures to increase yield by encouraging farmers to grow high yielding dwarf varieties, consider giving grants and subsidies and/or procuring raw cashew nuts at a much higher price which would offset effect of increased wages of workers as also services like transport etc.
India should also coordinate with other large producing/exporting countries like Vietnam and Nigeria to promote consumption of cashew nuts in the world particularly in developed importing countries, to evolve high-yielding varieties,exchange of information, exchange of agricultural and industrial experts etc.