Operating Environment

The Directorate of Cashew Research (DCR) (former National Research Centre for Cashew) was established in 1986 at Puttur, with the main purpose of giving thrust on increasing the production and productivity of cashew in the country. Since its inception, it has made major strides in enhancing the production and productivity of cashew. This Directorate serves as a national repository for cashew germplasm and a clearing house for research information on cashew. The impact of research efforts of DCR is now visible with the adoption of new varieties, production technologies and high demand for quality planting materials by the cashew farmers. All India Coordinated Research Project on Cashew (AICRP-Cashew) was also initiated as an independent project in 1986 with the main purpose of giving thrust on increasing the production and productivity of cashew in the country by addressing location specific problems. Since then India has progressed substantially in research front on cashew and the significant achievements in the area of Crop Improvement, Crop Management, Crop Protection, Post – Harvest Technology and Transfer of Technology are discussed hereunder. There is need to utilize available technologies for enhancing raw nut production. The important achievements are:

  • A total of 41 cashew varieties (28 selections and 13 hybrids) have been developed and released in the country for cultivation in varied agro-ecological situations by Directorate of Cashew Research and centres of AICRP on Cashew. In addition, the hybrids, H-66, H-68, H-43, H-125 and H-126 have been found promising for yield and bold nut characters.
  • The varieties released by DCR viz., NRCC Selection-2 and Bhaskara are medium nut types with high yield and recommended for cultivation in Karnataka. These varieties exhibited better yield performance in other cashew growing regions of the country as well.

Fruits of variety : Bhaskara

  • Regeneration of cashew from the seedling explants (nodal cultures) has been standardized.
  • Micrografting technique for in vitro multiplication of cashew has been standardized.
  • Protocols have been standardized for characterization of released varieties and cashew germplasm accessions using RAPD, ISSR and SSR markers.
  • The standardization of softwood grafting technique in cashew both at Directorate of Cashew Research and AICRP on Cashew has enabled commercialization of graft production. Over 150 lakh cashew grafts are being produced annually by this method both by government and private sectors.

Production of quality planting material

  • High density planting is highly economical to augment the yield per unit area. Planting at a spacing of 5m x 4m – 500 plants/ha not only increased yield by four folds up to 6 years and 2.27 folds up to 12 years but also reduces weed growth and soil temperature.
  • The Directorate has demonstrated the advantage of growing intercrops like pineapple, turmeric, brinjal, chillies and amorphophallus profitably in cashew orchards.
  • Glyricidia grown as an intercrop during initial years contributed 5.75 t/ha of dry matter, equivalent to 186 kg N, 40.8 kg P2O5 and 67.8 kg K2O/ha. The yield of cashew increased by 50 per cent when glyricidia and sesbania were raised as green manuring crops compared to control.
  • High density planting at a spacing of 4m x 4m (625 plants/ha) is better than normal spacing of 8m x 8m (156 plants/ha) resulting in yield increase by 2.5 times over control in the initial ten years.
  • Irrigating cashew at 60-80 litres of water/tree once in four days through drip after initiation of flowering till fruit set and development in combination with the application of 750: 187.5: 187.5 g of NPK/tree led to significant higher yields.
  • Soil and water conservation techniques like modified crescent bund or staggered trenches with coconut husk burial treatments helps in conserving soil moisture, reducing the annual runoff / soil loss and increasing the nut yield. Individual tree terracing with crescent bund is the best soil and water conservation measure in slopy lands.



Crescent bund as soil and water conservation measure

  • Recyclable Cashew Biomass (RCB) can be converted to vermicompost by utilizing the earthworm, Eudrillus sp. The recovery is 65-75 per cent within three months.
  • Crop suitability studies for cashew using GIS indicated that the productivity of cashew is higher in regions upto 750 m above MSL, mean annual rainfall of 600 to 1500 mm, mean annual temperature of 22.5 to 27.5°C and minimum temperature of 10 to 22°C.
  • Cashew stem and root borers (CSRB) are one of the major pests of cashew and presently, removal of pest stages from infested trees followed by insecticidal treatment viz., chlorpyriphos (0.2.%) is recommended along with phytosanitation for managing the CSRB.
  • The entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) viz., Heterorhabditis bacteriophora and Steinernema feltiae were encountered indigenously in the cashew ecosystem. The EPN species eterorhabditis indica, Steinernema abbasi and Steinernema bicornutum were found to be virulent in the soil upto 150 days.
  • For the management of the other major pest tea mosquito bug (TMB) need based sprays with insecticides such as L-cyhalothrin, profenophos and triazophos are found effective.
  • The phenomenon of phenological evasion of tea mosquito bug shown by some genotypes such as Goa 11/6 (later released as variety ‘Bhaskara’) may be advantageously used in formulating breeding programmes to escape severe infestation by TMB.

Tea mosquito bug damage on shoots

  • Mineral composition of defatted cashew kernel flour, testa and cashew apple varied among released varieties. Blending cashe apple pomace with defatted flours of either cashew or almond could improve the mineral content.
  • Cashew apple powder lipids are rich in unsaturated fatty acids and the major fatty acids are palmitoleic and oleic acids. Antioxidant activity in the cashew apple is associated with tannin, phenols, sugars, ascorbic acid and amino acids. Treatment of cashew apple with salt reduces the tannin content of cashew apple powder.
  • Processing parameters for farm level scale processing are optimized in order to improve whole kernel recovery to improve economic benefits to cashew farmers.
  • A dual mode dryer has been developed to dry raw cashewnuts affected by rain and enhance its storability.
  • A cashew shell cake (CSC) based up-draft gasifier suitable for applications needing thermal requirement of 10-12 kW has been developed.
  • A compact type mechanized drum roasting machine for raw cashewnuts is developed and processing parameters have been optimized for better kernel quality for various sized nuts.
  • Assessed the impact of transfer of technology (TOT) efforts and strategies have been formulated for their refinement.

The production of cashew has increased from 1.30 lakh tonnes during 1972-73 to 6.92 lakh tonnes during 2011-12. With the nutritional awareness and the stable price in the international market for cashew kernels, the trend in the consumption of cashew kernels is expected to increase in the coming years. One of the main advantages which India enjoys is the superior processing capacity established in the country. Further in the international trade, linkages developed by India are much stronger than any other country. Another advantage for the cashew export is that none of the major cashew importing countries has cashew cultivation. India also has the benefit of a well -structured development agency viz., Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development (DCCD), Kochi for cashew related activities besides state line departments. Cashew production at the national level can take the advantage of both research as well as, development network established in the country to further boost the crop prospects in the years to come. Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI), Kochi established in 1955 caters to the requirements of cashew exporters with respect to international trade. Further, in the international market, demand for Indian cashew kernels is increasing as they are rated to be the best in terms of quality.

Availability of high yielding varieties released from different Research Centres and Agricultural Universities during last 25 years is one of the major strengths. Out of the 41 varieties released so far, 13 varieties have the yield potential of 2.0 tonnes and above per hectare. As large planting material is needed both for area expansion and replanting programmes, certified regional nurseries have been established. These nurseries have the capacity of producing over 150 lakh cashew grafts annually, which will help the country to become self sufficient in raw cashewnut production and continue to maintain a leading position in the international cashew trade in spite of stiff competition from other cashew growing countries.

The stable price of the cashew kernels in the international market is a main opportunity for cashew cultivation in India and the recent increase in the price of raw cashewnut would encourage the farmers to expand the area under cashew. The domestic market is growing rapidly and also various food products having cashew are being aggressively marketed which ensures a continuous demand for cashew kernels. Cashew kernel compares well with other tree nuts and has high protein, minerals and unsaturated fatty acids. By developing cashew kernels with higher nutritive value, it is possible to exploit the international demand of quality conscious consumers.

The technologies developed based on new research strategies would help in enhancing the productivity of cashew resulting in increased production and lesser dependence on import of raw nuts with self reliance on indigenous raw nuts required for processing. In addition to this, research on utilization of by-products particularly research on cashew apple and cashewnut shell liquid are also being carried out by various Research Institutes. Product diversification efforts have resulted in enhanced trading of cashew products and market for cashew products as ‘health food’ is attracting the consumers across the globe. Intensification of research on these lines will definitely add value for effective utilization of this potential crop.

Besides degraded lands of sub-tropical / coastal region, large area suitable for cashew cultivation is available in various parts of the country which can be utilized for area expansion of cashew. Cashew is known to perform well even under moderate management conditions. Raw cashewnuts can be stored over a long period unlike other perishable horticultural produce and sold opportunely to get higher price. Establishment of cashew processing units can generate employment opportunity for women and cashew apple products can promote small scale cottage industries at farm level.

Genetic improvement of cashew, improved crop management practices, integrated pest management approaches, water, nutrient and soil resource management and farmer friendly public policies are the key strategies to increase productivity of cashew. The advances made in recent past in cashew production technology need to be emphasized. However, more research efforts are needed in order to generate cost effective cashew production technology. In addition, increase in productivity and expansion of area under cashew is another strategy for enhancing raw nut production in the country. Increasing productivity is the main aim of research activities at this Directorate and under the AICRP-Cashew set-up.

Further, research should focus on modifying the plant architecture and designing new ideotypes which can utilize solar energy, nutrients and water more efficiently. It is important to improve the efficiency of all production inputs viz., water and nutrients, minimize the losses caused by pests, diseases and weeds to achieve sustainable increase in cashew productivity along with effective post-harvest handling to ensure produce of superior quality. Emphasis should be laid on integrated nutrient management, efficientmanagement of water, soil health management, integrated pest management, weed management etc.

There is an immediate need for achieving quantum jump in cashew production in order to meet the raw nut requirement of the cashew industries by increasing productivity. The cashew production can also be increased by area expansion under high yielding varieties in collaboration with various development agencies. Various technological approaches such as high yielding varieties, high density planting, drip irrigation, optimum use of fertilizers etc., are being evaluated for their suitability in the various cashew growing tracts and being recommended to enhance productivity. Research strategies for increasing productivity with priority are given in Annexure 1.

The foremost constraints limiting the cashew productivity in the country are:

  • Large tracts having non-descript and seedling origin senile plantations of cashew in State Cashew Corporations and Forest Corporations.
  • The lands unsuitable for other crops are utilized for cashew cultivation. These are usually degraded lands with poor soil fertility.
  • Farmers are not fully aware of the latest cashew production technology.
  • Non adoption of recommended package of practices to the extent required.
  • Absence of compact and dwarf high yielding varieties for realizing its full potentiality of high density planting technology.
  • Though cashew apple production in the country is about eight to ten times that of nut production, most of the cashew apple is not utilized in India except in Goa where a small quantity of cashew apple is utilized for ‘feni’ preparation. Possible solutions and strategies to overcome cashew production constraints are:
  • Increasing productivity by adopting improved cashew production technologies.
  • Massive replanting programme to replace senile and unthrifty orchards.
  • Development of cost effective cashew production technologies.
  • Expansion of cashew area both in traditional and non-traditional areas.
  • Development of compact and dwarf high yielding cashew varieties suitable for high density plantation.
  • Effective pest management strategies against major insect pests and pests of regional importance.
  • Development of cashew based integrated farming systems.