Cashew Nut Suppliers and Production
Cashew nuts are native to tropical America and north eastern Brazil. Cashew nuts are botanically speaking the seeds from cashew fruits which belong to the Anacardium genus and the Anacardiaceae family. Cashew trees are frost sensitive and grow well in warm and humid climate. The cashew trees generally grow up to 14 meters tall. Another variety of cashew trees is the dwarf cashew, which have height of about 6 meters. Top cashew nut suppliers in the world are India, Brazil, Vietnam, Tanzania and Mozambique.
In year 2013, Vietnam was the top cashew nut supplier with an annual production of 1,110,800 metric tons of cashew. Nigeria and India were next cashew nut suppliers with an annual production of 950,000 and 753,000 metric tons respectively. The total cashew nut supply for the year 2013 was 4.4 million metric tons. West Africa and Australia are also upcoming cashew nut suppliers in the world. Though Cashew nut trees can tolerate drought but they tend to grow well in humid climate. It is recommended that the regions where cashew nuts are produced should have an annual rainfall of 1000 mm.
Cashew nut production is an expensive business. It takes an average of 3 years for a cashew tree to start producing cashews and about 8 years for it to start producing at an economically viable rate. The capital cost of a viable cashew orchard is substantial. Cashew nut suppliers that produce cashew nuts usually have a plantation of about 200 ha to ensure sufficient nut supply volume for overseas negotiation. However with appropriate machinery, processing and marketing facilities, the minimum size of a cashew orchid can vary.
Cashew Nut Trees
Cashew nut trees are large and evergreen trees that grow very fast. The world largest cashew nut tree is growing in Pirangi do Norte, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil and produces about 60,000 fruits annually. The tree covers an area in the range of 7300 square meters to 8400 square meters. It is said that this tree was planted in the year 1888, however a further evaluation of the speed at which cashew trees generally grow, suggests that the tree must be at least thousand years old.
Cashew Nut Fruits
The cashew nuts form at the base of accessory fruits of cashew trees and have kidney like shape. These accessory fruits of cashew trees are oval or pear shaped fruits which grow from the pedicel and receptacle of the cashew flower. Cashew flowers grow up to a length of 26 cm, which are pale green at first and slowly turn to five slender reddish petals. First the cashew nuts develop on the tree and then the pedicel expands to form the cashew apple. These cashew apples are yellow or red in color. They have a strong sweet smell and a sweet taste.
The cashew apples grow to a size of 5 to 11 cm long and are very juicy.
The Cashew nuts are primarily used for confectionery and cooking purposes. It is also used as a popular snack nut. The cashew apples are valued for their juice which can also be fermented into wine. The apple pulp is used to make jellies, candied fruits and syrup.
Cashew Nut shell
The cashew nut shell contains a liquid which is also called cashew nut shell liquid. Cashew nut shell liquid can cause contact dermatitis due to its contents such as cardol and anacardic acid. It produces burn like blisters on human skin. Cashew nut shell liquid has polymerising and friction reducing properties. Besides being used for industrial purposes, its potential application in nano materials and biotechnology is still under research. It is also used as a waterproofing agent and a preservative. Distilled Cashew nut shell liquid is also used in varnishes, cements, tiles, lubricants and inks.