Cashew is often considered “the crop of the poor and the food of the rich” and is an important commercial crop and a highly valued nut on the world market. The area dedicated to the cultivation of cashew nuts is the highest in India. However, this is not the case in the case of productivity, processing and quality. In reality, India's cashew industry has great untapped potential to support the livelihoods of cashew nut producers, provide numerous employment opportunities and improve returns through global trade.
This paper projects the need to make major changes to the existing system in order to find a substantial improvement in the growth of India's cashew industry.
Cashewis cultivated in the eastern and western coastal areas of India. Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal are the main producers of cashew nuts in India. The state with the highest production of cashew nuts is Maharashtra, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Karnataka.
India produces approximately 23% of the world's cashew nuts exported and India is the second largest consumer of cashew nuts. Reportedly, investors concerned about the dominance of the Indian and Vietnamese markets could choose to diversify supply and start investing in the production of African cashew nuts. India and Vietnam's growing needs for raw cashew nuts have also boosted the growth of cashew cultivation in Ivory Coast. For the Ivory Coast economy, the cashew boom represents an unexpected but welcome opportunity to diversify agricultural exports beyond cacao beans and rubber.
It is clear that growing cashews is profitable, but it is not limited to selling raw cashew nuts and the farmer should be willing to take a step forward. As the world's leading exporter of processed cashew nuts, India imports 50 to 60% of raw cashew nuts for processing from Africa and Asia. The windfall could be even greater and stimulate a true cashew industry capable of competing with India and other cashew nut producers, such as Vietnam, in international markets. Unfortunately, cashew nut processing is a tedious process and the availability of machinery is limited in most African countries.
Today, Vietnam is the world's largest exporter of cashew nuts, with 2,500,000 metric tons per year. Cashew nuts that farmers sell at the local market as raw products are priced at 90 to 100 rupees per kilo. Machinery has been effective in eliminating part of the manual labor process, but the cashew industry still relies heavily on manual labor to do most of the processing today. Tamil Nadu is the sixth largest exporter of cashew nuts, while Kerala is the fifth largest exporter of cashew nuts in the country.
Most importers do this to process the cashew nut and then export the product to Europe and other countries where prices are much higher. Many women were not provided with gloves and, in the past, they used their hand to separate the kernels from the cashew nut. In addition to planting new trees, Tamil Nadu established a series of cashew processing units and employed people to produce more cashew nuts in the state and export them.