Cashew (Anacardium occidentale), a native of Brazil, was introduced in India during the later half of the 16th Century for the purpose of afforestation and soil conservation. From its humble beginning as a crop intended to check soil erosion, cashew has emerged as a major foreign exchange earner next only to tea and coffee. Cashew Kernel which is highly delicious, has become a much sought after produce. Among various nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds, etc., cashew nut enjoys an unenviable position and it is an unavoidable snack in all important social functions specially in the western countries.

The National Scene

Commercial cultivation of cashew in India is taken up in eight states in India. It is also cultivated on small areas in other states of the country. India has an area of about 7.30 lakh ha under cashew with an estimated annual production of about 4.60 lakh tonnes of raw cashew nut. India is the largest producer, processor, consumer and exporter of cashew in the world. The current production accounts for 45% of the global production. A large number of small and marginal farmers, especially living on the coastal belts of India, depends on cashew for their livelihood. Nearly 2.00 lakh workers, more than 90% of whom are women, are directly employed in cashew processing factories which are concentrated mostly in Kerala. It is estimated that nearly two million people are involved, directly and indirectly in cashew cultivation, processing and marketing.

Coastal states of the country are the main production centres. The important cashew growing states of India are Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.

Cashew cultivation is taken up in small and marginal holdings and as more than 70% of the cashew area is under this category, cashew plays an important role in the development of small and marginal farmers.


The general notion is that "cashew is very modest in its soil requirements and can adapt itself to varying soil conditions without impairing productivity". But cashew performs much better on good soils than on poor soils. The best soils for cashew are deep, friable well drained sandy loams without a hard pan. Cashew also thrives on pure sandy soils although mineral deficiencies are more likely to occur. Water stagnation and flooding are not congenial for cashew.


Cashew is a tropical plant and thrives at high temperatures. Young plants are sensitive to frost. Areas where the temperatures range from 20 to 30 degree Celsius with an annual precipitation of 1000 - 2000 mm are ideal for cashew growing. Heavy rainfall, evenly distributed throughout the year, is not favourable though the trees may grow and some times set fruit. It needs a climate with a well defined dry season of at least four months to produce the best yields. Coincidence of excessive rainfall and high relative humidity with flowering may result in flower/fruit drop and heavy incidence of fungal disease. Cashew is regarded as "essentially coastal tree" but that is not true. It also grows well at considerable distance from the coast.


The research programmes in the field of crop improvement have identified elite materials with yield potential ranging between 20-25 kg per tree. Several varieties have been released by the different co-ordinating centres of ICAR. All the Agricultural Universities and Research Centres have established bud wood bank with the released varieties of respective centres, for further multiplication and distribution. Some important varieties are :

BPP-1 : High percentage of perfect flower, 13.2%, fruit set high, yield 17 kg (25 year old plant) per plant, shelling, 27.5% nuts of 5g average weight.

BPP-2 : Yield 19 kg/tree (25 years), shelling 26%, nuts 4g average.

BPP-3,4,5 : are also other good varieties.

Vengurla-1 : Average yield 23 kg/plant at 28 year's age, nut weight 6g, shelling 31%.

Vengurla-2 : Yield 24 kg/plant at 20 year's age, nut weight 4 g, shelling 32%.

Vengurla-3 : Nut weight 9 g.

Vengurla-4,5, VRI-1,2, Ullal-1,2, Anakkayam-1, BLA 39-4, K-22-1, NDR 2-1.

K-22-1 and NDR 2-1 are good export varieties.

Preparation of Land

It is better to select the land having good drainage and devoid of sub-surface hard rock or hard pan, for successful cultivation of cashew. The land should be ploughed thoroughly and levelled in case of agricultural lands. In case of forest lands, the jungle should be cleared well in advance and the debris burnt. After clearing the jungles, land is to be terraced or bunds constructed in slopy land. Pits of 1 m3 are to be dug and allowed to wither.

Planting material

Cashew is a cross pollinated crop and exhibits wide variations in respect of nut, apple and yield of seedling progenies. Therefore, vegetative propagation has been advocated to mitigate this problem. Air-layering has been quite successful but survival percentage seems to be low and it has been reported that the plantations raised from air-layers are more susceptible to drought and the life of such plantation is shorter as compared to that of grafted or seeding ones. The anchorage has also been observed to be poor, especially in cyclone prone areas. Number of other methods of propagation such as budding and grafting have been found successful with varying degrees of success. Epicotyl grafting and softwood grafting are found to be successful because it is easy to produce large number of grafts in a short time. The percentage of field establishment is also reported to be high with these grafts. Adequate thrust has been given to produce enough planting materials through these standardised techniques, by the ICAR (through the National Research Centre for Cashew, its sub-stations, Agricultural Universities and State Departments of Horticulture/Agriculture), to meet the growing demand.

Layout and Planting

Cashew trees are generally planted with a spacing of 7 to 9 meters usually by the square system. It is, however, preferable to plant by the equilateral triangular system, especially on the slopes, as this accommodates 15% more plants without affecting the growth and development of the trees. In undulating areas they are preferably planted along the contours, with cradle pits or trenches provided at requisite spacing in a staggered manner to arrest soil erosion and help moisture conservation.

The grafted plants obtained from the superior mother plant are usually planted after filling the pits (1 m3 size) with top soil and Farm Yard Manure at the onset of monsoon. It is desirable to dig the pits well in advance and allow sufficient time for withering. Burning of the debris and forest wastes inside the pits before planting is advantageous. It is essential to provide stakes and temporary shade with the locally available materials wherever necessary (especially in the South West aspects in case of forest plantation) to reduce the mortality rate and achieve quicker establishment. If the monsoon rains are inadequate, one or two pot waterings can be done during the initial stages to ensure establishment. Mulching with black polythene is beneficial to increase the growth and yield of cashew.


The nutritional requirements of are given below :

Nutrient Grams per tree per year
   1 year  2 year  3 year & after
N 170 340 500
P2O5 45 85 125
K2O 45 85 125

In sandy and laterite soils, soils of sloppy land and in heavy rainfall zones, the fertilizer application should be done in a circular trench of 25 cm broad and 15 cm depth at 1.5m from the tree trunk. Circular band application in an area of 1.5 m width between 1.5m and 3.0m from the trunk, and incorporation in to the soil should be practised in red loamy soils in low rainfall zones. The fertilizer should be applied in two split doses in pre and post-monsoon period. However, if single application is to be done, it should be in post-monsoon season where adequate soil moisture is available.


Timings of weeding are very important to minimise the cost. Slashing the weeds with the advancement of dry season is hardly beneficial. Like wise deep digging during or just at the end of monsoon is detrimental, as it may lead to soil erosion especially in sloppy lands or formation of hard pan after the monsoon is over. Weeding with a light digging should preferably be done before the end of rainy reason. Hoeing, cutting the weeds off underground , is more effective than slashing. Chemical weeding has not been of any importance until now, however it may be considered as an alternative, where wages are high or where there is shortage of labour.


Considering the long pre-bearing period and low income in the early period of bearing and fluctuations in the yield and price from year to year it is recommended to take up inter-cropping in cashew plantations. Inter crops which can replace weeds and as such would not compete for light, moisture and nutrients with cashew may be taken up. Inter-crops which can be harvested very early in the dry season or at the end of rainy season are very suitable. Tall growing inter crops like certain varieties of sorghum and millet should not be encouraged between young cashew, as they provide too much shade. Leguminous crops such as groundnuts and beans are very suitable for inter cropping. Besides the annual crops, the arid zone fruit crops having less canopy especially anona, phalsa, etc., can be thought of, depending on the suitability.

Top working

Better management practices no doubt will increase the yields marginally but boosting cashew production 3-4 folds in a short span of time is perhaps possible only by "genetic transformation" of the existing plantations with high yielding varieties. It is reported that this genetic transformation can be effected through top working. The rejuvenation of unthrift cashew plantations through top working involves beheading of trees, allowing juvenile shoots to start-out and taking up of in-situ grafting using procured scions of high yielding varieties. Periods from November to March and February to June have been found to be ideal for beheading and in-situ grafting respectively. It has been observed that the top worked trees within a period of two years have not only put forth a canopy of 3-4 m in diameter and 5-6 m in height (as that of 8-10 year old trees) but also have given an yield of 3 to 5 kg nuts per tree in their first bearing itself.

Pests and Diseases


It is observed that there are about 30 species of insects infesting cashew. Out of these tea mosquito, flower thrips and stem and root borer and fruit and nut borer are the major pests, which are reported to cause around 30% loss to the yield.

Tea Mosquito

The nymphs and the adults of tea mosquito (Helopeltis spp.) suck sap on the tender leaves, shoots and inflorescence and even young nuts and apples. The saliva of the insect is very toxic, which causes blistering at the site of infestation. Severe attack on the young shoots cause dieback. Attacked inflorescence usually can be recognised from a distance by their scorched appearance. Tea mosquito population builds up during the beginning of the rainy season, when the cashew tree is full of new flush.

Tea mosquito can be controlled by spraying carboryl 0.1.% or phosalone 0.07% or endosulfan 0.05% or dimethoate 0.05%. Spraying should be done thrice, first at the time of flushing, second at early flowering and third given at the time of fruit set.


Both nymphs and adults suck and scrape at the underside of the leaves, mainly along main veins, causing yellowish patches, latter turning grey, giving the leaves a silvery appearance. These thrips are more active during the dry season. 0.05% monocrotophos or 0.1% carbaryl are very effective for controlling thrips.

Stem and Root Borers

The young white grubs bore into the fresh tissues of the bark of the trunk and roots and feed on the subsequent subepidermal tissues and make tunnels in irregular directions. Due to severe damage to the vascular tissue the sap flow is arrested and the stem is weakened. The characteristics symptoms of damage include the presence of small holes, in the collar region, gummosis, yellowing and shedding of the leaves and drying of the twigs.

Control : Complete control of this pest once the plant is infested is very difficult. However, prophylactic measures for its control can be adopted with 0.1% BHC swabbing twice a year, once in April-May and the second application during November.

Fruit and nut Borers

The young caterpillar bores through the apple and nut causing deformity and /or loss of kernel weight.

Control : Spraying of endosulfan at 0.07% or monocrotophos 0.05% concentration at flowering and fruit setting is recommended.


Fortunately cashew crop does not have any serious disease problem, except the powdery mildew caused by a fungus, which affects the young twigs and inflorescences and make it wither. This disease generally appears when the weather becomes cloudy. Control can be obtained by dusting with 2% sulphur W.P.

Harvesting and Yield

Normally harvesting consists of reaping the nuts that have dropped to the ground after maturing. However, if the apples are also used for making jam, juice, syrup, fenni, etc., the fruit has to be harvested before it falls naturally. Plantations of unknown origin or seeding progenies with conventional methods of cultivation yield less than one kg of raw nuts per tree. However, there is a chance to increase the yield up to 4 to 5 kg per tree with the adoption of improved production techniques, over a period of 4 to 5 years. In new plantations, with the use of elite planting material coupled with a package of improved agronomic practices, an yield of 8-10 kg per tree could be achieved.


Marketing of cashew is not a problem in view of the fact that our raw material production is considerably low (around 2.60 lakh tonnes) when compared to the processing capacity of our existing factories (around 4.5 lakh tonnes developed so far). On an average the raw cashew nuts fetch a price of Rs.10-12 per kg in the internal market.


The processing of cashew involves the following steps :

- Preliminary cleaning

- Roasting

- Shelling and separation

- Drying

- Peeling

A preliminary cleaning of cashew nuts is done by manual picking of large objects and by sieving. The cleaned cashew nut is roasted in open pan or earthen ware or rotary cylinder or hot oil bath. The two methods are simple and cheap, but do have the disadvantages of poor recovery of CNSL (Cashew Nut Shell Liquid) and time consuming. The rotary cylinder method is more hygienic and efficient, despite a major portion of the CNSL would be lost. The hot oil bath process combines good roasting and recovery of shell liquid. The cleaned cashew nuts are placed in wire baskets and immersed in a tank containing CNSL, boiling at a constant temperature of about 180-200 degree Celsius for about 60 to 90 seconds. The CNSL in the tank should be stirred continuously to avoid local over heating and excessive polymerization and clogging. However, the hot oil bath processing is costlier, and is resorted to only by a few processors. The most common method adopted is roasting by rotary cylinder method. After roasting, the shells are removed and the nuts extracted manually. In manual shelling, recovery of whole kernels is more compared to the mechanical shelling. The kernels are dried in hot air chambers which facilitates peeling of the outer coating. To prevent breakage, the kernels are to be handled very carefully, as they are brittle at this stage. The shelling percentage of cashew varies from 20-25.

Grading and Packing

Grading is done for export purposes based on "counts" or number of kernels per Lb. Sound kernels are named as "wholes" and broken ones as "splits". The wholes are again classified as whole white kernels, whole scorched kernels, whole dessert kernels (a) and whole dessert kernels (b). The splits are also further graded into white pieces, scorched pieces, dessert pieces (a) and dessert pieces (b) based on certain physical characters. The wholes are packed in several grade viz., 210, 2401, 280, 320, 400, 459 and 500; the popular grade is 320. The specifications for graded kernels are that they should be fully developed, Ivory white in colour and should be free from insect damage and black and brown spots. Packing is done in time by Vita pack method (exhausting the air inside the packing tin, pumping in carbondioxide and sealing).

Unit Cost : The unit cost varies from state to state. The cost presented here is indicative only. The entrepreneurs and the bankers are requested to consult our Regional Offices for the latest information in this regard. The unit cost estimated for this model scheme is Rs.29600/- per ha capitalised upto the fifth year. The break-up deatails are given in Annexure I.

Financial Analysis : Results of financial analysis are indicated below :

NPW at 15% DF : Rs.93513 (+)

BCR at 15% DF : 3.31

IRR : 42.18%

Detailed analysis is presented in Annexure II.

Margin Money : The margin money assumed in this model scheme is 5% of the total financial outlay.

Interest Rate : Interest rate may be decided by the banks as per guidelines of the RBI.

Security : Banks may charge such security as permissible under the RBI guidelines.

Repayment : The bank loan with interest is repayable within 10 years with a grace period of 6 years. The details are presented in Annexure III.

Annexure - I


Planting Materials : Grafts (only clones of recommended varieties)

Spacing : 7m x 7m

No. of plants /ha : 200

Estimated Cost (Rs/Ha)

S.No Item of Expenditure Cost per year
    1 2 3 4 5 Total
1 Land Preparation 800 0 0 0 0 800
2 Digging of pits and filling 1,600 0 0 0 0 1,600
3 Planting Material* 2,400 240 0 0 0 2,640
4 Planting - Staking 200 40 0 0 0 240
5 Live Hedge 1,000 0 0 0 0 1,000
6 Manures and Fertilisers 701 1,357 1,938 2,514 2,514 9,022
7 Plant Protection 556 713 869 1,181 1,181 4,500
8 Irrigation 900 1,000 1,100 1,200 1,200 5,400
9 Interculture/training 600 660 726 799 799 3,582
10 Harvesting & Packing 0 0 0 200 400 600
11 Miscellaneous 43 90 67 7 7 216
  Total 8,800 4,100 4,700 5,900 6,100 29,600

* Including 10% extra for gap filling

Maintenance Cost

Rs.6500/- per annum from the 6th year onward.

B. Projected Income

Year 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 onwards  
Kg/ha. 150 300 500 800 1,200 1,600 2,000  
Gross Income (Rs/ha)* 5,250 10,500 17,500 28,000 42,000 56,000 70,000  

*Farm gate price : Rs. 35.00 per kg

Annexure II
Financial Analysis (Cashew)


Particulars /Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10-25  
Capital cost (Rs) 8800 4100 4700 5900 6100            
Maintenance cost (Rs) 0 0 0 0 0 6500 6500 6500 6500 6500  
Total cost (Rs) 8800 4100 4700 5900 6100 6500 6500 6500 6500 6500  
Yield/ha(200trees) -Kg 0.0 0.0 0.0 150.0 300.0 500.0 800.0 1200.0 1600.0 2000.0  
Income @ Rs. 35/Kg 0 0 0 5250 10500 17500 28000 42000 56000 70000  
Net Benefit (Rs) -8800 -4100 -4700 -650 4400 11000 21500 35500 49500 63500  
DF at 15% 0.870 0.756 0.658 0.572 0.497 0.432 0.376 0.327 0.284 1.693  
PWC 7652 3100 3090 3373 3033 2810 2444 2125 1848 11005 40480
PWB -7652 -3100 -3090 -372 2188 4756 8083 11605 14071 107506 133993
NPW at 15% DF 93513                    
BCR 3.31                    
IRR 42.18%                    

Annexure III

Repayment Schedule (Cashew) (Amount in Rs.)

Year Loan disbursed Net Benefit Interest @12% Deferred Interest Payment Interest Payment of deferred interest Repayment of Principal Total Outgoing Surplus Principal Outstanding
1 8360 0 1003 1003 0 0 0 0 0 8360
2 3895 0 1471 2474 0 0 0 0 0 12255
3 4465 0 2006 4480 0 0 0 0 0 16720
4 5605 0 2679 7159 0 0 0 0 0 22325
5 5795 4400 3374 7159 3374 0 0 3374 1026 28120
6   11000 3374 7159 3374 0 0 3374 7626 28120
7   21500 3374 6468 3374 1538 1538 6450 15050 26582
8   35500 3190 6468 3190 3730 3730 10650 24850 22852
9   49500 2742 2738 2742 2738 9370 14850 34650 13482
10   63500 1618 0 1618 0 13482 15100 48400 0

Repayment period is 10 years including 6 years grace period