Sat July 13 2013
THE Philippine government agencies are making steps in order to revive the cultivation and processing of cashew to make them more productive. Why revive cashew farming? There are many reasons why cashew is a good crop to focus on, especially nowadays when there are so many unemployed hands in the rural areas.
IN 2010 the Philippines ranked seventh among the top 10 cashew producers, which included Vietnam, 958,000 metric tons; India, 695,000 MT; Nigeria, 580,761 MT; Côte d’Ivoire, 246,383 MT; Brazil, 220,505 MT; Indonesia, 145,000 MT; the Philippines, 111,993 MT; United Republic of Tanzania, 79,100 MT; Mozambique, 67,846 MT; and Guinea-Bissau, 64,650 MT.
Why revive cashew?
IN 2000 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that 2 million tons of cashew nut recorded an estimated value of more than $2 billion. The cashew industry ranks third in the world production of edible nuts.
Cashew kernels are ranked as either the second or third most expensive nut traded in the United States. Cashew nuts have a well-established market in the United States with a great variety of uses. Retail prices range from about $4 to $11 per pound ($9 to $23 per kilogram) depending on the size of nut and the packaging.
Three main cashew products are traded in the international market—raw nuts, cashew kernels and cashew nut shell liquid. A fourth product, the cashew apple, is generally processed and consumed locally. Local producers cannot meet the demand for cashew nuts. Key informant interviews with selected local cashew vendors in the municipalities of Roxas, Taytay, El Nido and Aborlan showed that the supply of nuts (raw or processed) cannot match the demand of importers. The buyers mentioned included those from Antipolo, Selecta and Australia.
Starting with small revival steps
RECENTLY, the government, led by the Department of Agriculture-Palawan Agricultural Extension Station (DA-Paes), convened an assessment-brainstorming workshop on establishing COE on cashew.
This COE would take the lead in developing new environment-friendly, high-yielding and disease-resistant cashew varieties, which farmers all over the Philippines could use to rejuvenate their existing old cashew trees.
At DA-Paes, there is currently a gene bank which hosts six promising varieties.
One of these is the Mitra variety, which is known for its high nut weight (13.43 grams). In the past five years, said Engr. Elmer Ferry, DA-Paes adopted Roxas, Taytay and El Nido as cashew municipalities; with Paes actively distributing the Mitra variety as part of its revival strategy.
The DA-Paes is also actively engaged in training cooperatives and associations on how to process various cashew products, such as roasted, salted and honey-glazed nuts, wine, butter, nougat, soap, prunes, etc. Producing quality cashew nuts is labor-intensive (e.g., manually cracking the shell and removing the testa from the nut), and requires many workers to do the job.
To unleash the full economic potential of cashew as a dollar earner, the government and the business-sector partner in reviving cashew production (from varietal development to marketing) so that many of the poorer people, particularly the women, in the rural areas, may be benefited.