Cashew being a primarily export-oriented crop; assured market stability and international market prices will influence the establishment of cashew as an horticultural crop in the country. In the recent years, there has been considerable demand for the edible nuts, especially in the countries which are health conscious. Among the tree nuts, cashew compares well in its nutritive value and was placed at the base of the Diet Pyramid along with fruits, vegetables and legumes encouraging daily consumption, in the new version developed by the World Health Organization. Cashew kernels contain 50 per cent fat of which 82 per cent is unsaturated fatty acids and free from cholesterol. The carbohydrate content is low and safe for consumption even by the diabetic patients. With the aggressive market campaigning projecting these quality and nutritive features, the international demand for cashew kernels can be expected to increase in near future.
From the Indian point of view to maintain and sustain the competitive edge and share in the world market, it is necessary to produce adequate quantity of raw nuts to meet the processing capacity established in the country without depending on import of raw nuts. The South-East Asian countries especially Vietnam which have taken up cashew cultivation in the recent years are strong competitors in the years to come. As mentioned earlier, already 9.91 lakh ha area is under the cashew and further expansion of the area by enterprising farmers should be encouraged. The target for raw cashewnut production by 2030 is 25.0 lakh tonnes and by 2050 is 45.0 lakh tonnes. The strategy is to take up fresh planting or replanting with grafts of high yielding varieties / hybrids in newer areas and areas having senile and unthrifty cashew plantations raised from seedling origin. These areas identified for replanting have been shown to be suitable for cashew cultivation over several years and have a lesser degree of soil degradation under crop cover for a longer period. It is crucial to disseminate the technologies developed by the research centers, especially the high yielding varieties with export grade kernels and other preferred traits. It is also necessary to develop improved package of practices which is cost-effective, so that the production cost can be reduced and processed kernels can be priced competitively in the international market. In order to reduce and rationalize the pesticide usage, development of suitable IPM strategies for major pests of cashew comprising of field tolerant varieties and pheromone/ kairomone technology is essential.
Cashew apple is not being utilized fully and the same can be utilized to produce industrial alcohol, ethanol / bio-fuel for use in combination with petrol in automobiles and other machinery, besides preparation of various culinary products. Intensifying the production of another by-product viz., Cashewnut Shell Liquid (CNSL) finds extensive industrial use like furnace lining, textile industry, preparation of varnish, paints, resins, timber protection etc. Recently, CNSL has been found to have great utility in emerging field of nano-technology which has medical application in targeted drug delivery which can be exploited to the fullest extent possible. Cashewnut is not a perishable horticultural commodity and can be stored without deterioration in kernel quality for a maximum period of nine months. Cashew farmers can sell the nuts as and when price is profitable and need not going for distress sale. High density planting in cashew is a key approach for augmenting productivity. However, high density planting needs suitable dwarf and compact cashew varieties so as to harness solar energy without overlapping of canopy. Fresh efforts are needed at Government level through Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to obtain cashew types having dwarf and compact canopy with high yield. It is also reported that Brazil has unique cashew apple types suitable for fresh consumption without much astringency. In the MOU / Work Plan, the unique cashew apple types can also be included for introduction to India.
Research programmes are contemplated at Directorate of Cashew Research Puttur, under Crop Improvement, Crop Management, Crop Protection, Post Harvest Technology and Transfer of Technology as detailed hereunder to translate the perspective into reality.
- Enrichment of National Repository of Cashew Germplasm.
- Need for well established protocol for exchange of cashew germplasm, improved varieties and hybrids between India, Brazil and other countries.
- Characterization, evaluation and valuation of cashew germplasm.
- Utilization of wild cashew types for introgression of desirable traits in newer varieties.
- Identification of tolerant source for the major pests of cashew viz., tea mosquito bug and cashew stem and root borer.
- Development of dwarf cashew varieties suitable for high density planting.
- Identification of tolerant source for abiotic stress viz., drought, salinity, waterlogging, low temperature etc.
- Development of varieties in the scenario of climate change using bio–technological tools and other advanced techniques.
- Development of high yielding varieties with improved biochemical quality.
- Development of varieties with bigger apple size and less astringency to support and enhance production of bio-fuel and other value added products.
- Identification of molecular markers linked to economic traits for marker aided selection.
- Saturation of genetic maps.
- In vitro conservation of germplasm for long term storage by cryopreservation techniques.
- Evolving cashew genotypes using genetic engineering techniques for various desirable growth and yield characteristics.
- Creation of gene library and saturation of genetic maps.
- Identification of suitable rootstocks.
- Standardizing canopy architecture for various planting densities.
- Usage of growth regulators for enhancing productivity.
- Studies on synchronized ripening of cashew apple.
- Nutrient dynamics, site specific nutrient management and development of nutrient diagnostic norms.
- Improving productivity and quality by increasing input use efficiency in different agro-ecological regions.
- Identification of sustainable cashew based farming system.
- Development of organic farming modules for domestic and global markets.
- Standardization of fertigation and critical regime of water management.
- Documentation of nutrient deficiency / toxicity symptoms.
- Investigations on identifying causes for yellow leaf spot of cashew and suggesting remedial measures.
- Development of decision support system (DSS) and yield forecasting models in cashew.
- Assessing impact of climate change on cashew and development of technologies for climate change, adaptation and mitigation of green house gas (GHG) emissions.
- Development of climate resilient agro-techniques in order to suit unfavourable abiotic conditions.
Transfer of Technology
- Development of eco-friendly IPM strategies for the management of major pests of cashew involving kairomone or pheromone technology.
- Utilization of bio-control agents such as entomo-pathogenic pathogens, parasitoids etc., for the effective management of pests of cashew.
- Development of acoustic equipment for detection of pest activity in case of borers.
- Documenting the bio-diversity of fauna and their role in cashew ecosystem.
- Standardization of mass rearing of CSRB, flower and fruit pests and their natural enemies.
- Analysis of pesticide residues in cashew produce and cashew ecosystem to address concerns pertaining to food quality standards.
- Monitoring of new pests and diseases in the scenario of climate change and development of models for forecasting the pest incidence.
- Etiology and transmission studies on prominent diseases.
- Mechanization of cashewnut processing with modern improved technologies.
- Development of non-thermal solar based, eco-friendly cashewnut processing system.
- Improving the extraction technique of anacardic acid from cashewnut shell.
- Development of cost effective system for preparation of bio-fuel from cashew apple.
- Alternate utilization of byproducts of cashew industry viz., cashew apple pomace, cashew shell, cashew testa and cashew rejects for better economic returns.
- Development of protocols for value added products.
- Utilizing advances in ICTs for wider farmer reach and efficient transfer of advanced cashew production technologies.
- Identification, analysis and popularization of sustainable cashew based farming systems for different cashew growing areas of the country.
- Promote innovations and improve human resource capacity by involving all stakeholders in the cashew supply chain.
- Capacity building for farmers, line-departments and extension personnel.
- Development of software to cater to agro - meteorology / weather based advisory for cashew cultivation.
- Constraint analysis in cashew cultivation.