In order to regain and maintain India’s leading position in the international market and trade it is of utmost importance to increase the raw cashewnut production in the country. This can be achieved by enhancement of productivity in existing plantations as well as by bringing the new areas under cultivation both in traditional and non-traditional areas of the country. It has been estimated that the requirement of raw cashewnuts will be 25.0 lakh tonnes by 2030 and would touch 45.0 lakh tonnes of raw cashewnuts by 2050. The major step to meet this challenge would be to establish sound research programmes through basic and strategic approaches in the areas of Crop Improvement, Crop Management, Crop Protection and Post-Harvest Technology. There is an urgent need to establish linkages with leading research institutions both within the country, as well as, in foreign countries for achieving the desired goal. In addition, public-private partnership and participatory approaches need impetus. The focus for the future would be:
There is wide gap between raw cashewnut processing capacities of the industries established in the country as well as, the actual raw cashewnut production. In order to meet this deficit, every year, India imports nearly 50 per cent of the required raw cashewnuts from African and South East Asian countries. The availability of raw cashewnuts for import has been reduced drastically as these countries have strengthened their processing industries. Hence, it has become inevitable to increase the raw cashewnut production in India to attain and maintain self sufficiency. Further, it would enable India to maintain leading position in the international market and trade. Research efforts are to be concentrated keeping this vital goal in mind.
Cashew is generally grown in slopy land and in the soils with poor fertility status. The cultivation of this crop is taken up mostly by poor farmers or the farmers without any irrigation facilities. In fact, through cashew cultivation, the degraded soil can be converted into healthy soil leading to higher yields thereby improving the economic status of the cashew farmer.
Cashew industries already employ a large number of rural women for various steps involved in processing. Research undertaken at several research organizations have clearly established that various value added products can be prepared out of cashew kernel as well as cashew apple. There is an excellent scope for establishing industries focusing on value addition once the production of raw cashewnuts is increased by many folds. This would definitely boost employment opportunities especially for skilled rural women.
Cashew kernel is mini store house of protein, carbohydrate and fat with right proportion of saturated, mono unsaturated and poly unsaturated fatty acids. It also contains vitamin E which improves immunity by virtue of being a naturally occurring antioxidant. The purchasing capacity of Indian population is increasing rapidly and there could be demand for huge quantity of cashew kernel available in the domestic market in future. The consumption of nutritious cashew kernel could surely bring about nutrition security for growing population.