Cashew Farming: Cultivation, Harvesting and Market Opportunities

Cashew Farming: Cultivation, Harvesting and Market Opportunities

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Cashew nuts, native to Brazil, were in India in about the latter half of the sixteenth century for the purpose of afforestation and soil conservation. Cashews, which were originally planted as a crop to check soil erosion, have grown to become a foreign currency earner second only to tea and coffee. 

The cashew nut is one of the most widespread nuts in the world and is the first nut grown. Among various nuts that include hazelnuts, almonds, etc., cashew nuts hold the position of an unbeatable snack at all significant social events, especially in Western countries. Learn more about cashew farming, the cultivation process and farming benefits below. 

Cultivation Practices

Cashew farming is predominantly practised in states with tropical and subtropical climates, such as Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra. These states offer the ideal conditions of well-drained sandy loam soils, moderate rainfall, and ample sunlight that cashew trees thrive in. Look further to know the Cashew cultivation process in detail below.

Varieties of Cashew

Choosing suitable cashew varieties is crucial, as it determines the tree’s adaptability to local conditions and the quality of nuts produced. Varieties like W180, Vengurla-4, and VRI-2 are commonly grown for their high yield and desirable nut characteristics.

Climate and Soil Requirements

Cashew trees thrive in tropical climates with well-defined wet and dry seasons. They prefer sandy loam to laterite soils with good drainage. The pH range of 6.0 to 7.5 is ideal for cashew cultivation.

Site Selection and Land Preparation

Selecting a site with proper sunlight exposure and wind protection is essential, especially when utilising tools like the Mahindra 585. The land should be prepared by removing weeds, stones, and debris, then ploughing and levelling to create an optimal environment for cashew cultivation.

Propagation Methods

Cashew trees are propagated through seeds or grafting. Grafting is preferred as it ensures the desired characteristics of the parent tree.

Planting and Spacing

Planting is typically done at the beginning of the rainy season. Proper spacing, usually around 7-8 meters between trees, is maintained to allow ample sunlight and air circulation.

Irrigation Techniques

Young cashew trees require regular watering, especially during the dry season. Drip irrigation effectively delivers water directly to the root zone, minimising wastage.

Weed and Pest Management

Weed management is crucial during the initial years to prevent competition for nutrients. To illustrate, employing tractors such as the Mahindra Arjun 605 can effectively prepare the soil while uprooting weeds. Additionally, pests like aphids, mealybugs, and scales can be controlled through integrated pest management practices, including natural predators and safe pesticides.

Disease Control Measures

Diseases like powdery mildew, leaf spot, and anthracnose can affect cashew trees. Proper sanitation, pruning, and disease-resistant varieties can help manage these issues.

Pruning and Training

Pruning shapes the tree, promotes proper growth, and aids in harvesting. Regular training ensures an open canopy that allows sunlight to reach all parts of the tree.

Flowering and Pollination

Cashew trees produce both male and female flowers. Pollination is typically achieved through wind and insects, but hand-pollination can improve fruit sets.

Harvesting and Yield

Harvesting Cashew trees start bearing fruits after 2-3 years of planting, and full production is attained in 6-7 years. The nuts are harvested once the cashew apple turns pink or red, indicating maturity. Hand-picking is the most common method, requiring skilled labour to prevent damage to the nuts and trees.

Post-Harvest Handling and Processing

The nuts are sun-dried to reduce moisture content and prevent fungal growth. They are then shelled to extract the edible cashew kernel. Proper processing ensures the production of high-quality nuts.

Market Opportunities and Challenges

The global demand for cashews is increasing due to their nutritional value and versatile usage. However, market fluctuations, price volatility, and competition can challenge cashew farmers.

Sustainable Practices in Cashew Farming

Implementing sustainable practices, such as organic farming, integrated pest management, and efficient water use, ensures the long-term viability of cashew cultivation while minimising environmental impacts.

Challenges Faced by Cashew Farmers

Climate change has introduced unpredictability in weather patterns, leading to irregular rainfall, prolonged droughts, and heatwaves. These factors directly impact cashew tree growth, flowering, and fruiting, affecting overall yield. Below, we have mentioned some major challenges faced by farmers.

  • Pests and Diseases- Cashew crops are susceptible to various pests and diseases, including cashew stem and root borer, leaf miner, and fungal infections. These threats can significantly reduce yields if not managed properly, necessitating regular monitoring and application of appropriate measures.
  • Lack of Modern Practices- Many cashew farmers in India still follow traditional cultivation methods, unaware of modern techniques that could enhance productivity and profitability. Adopting improved practices, such as nutrient management, irrigation techniques, and pest control strategies, is essential for sustainable growth.

Opportunities in Cashew Farming

Export Potential India is a leading exporter of cashew nuts, with a significant global market share. The demand for cashews continues to grow in international markets, providing a lucrative opportunity for farmers to capitalise on.

Value Addition- Apart from raw cashew nuts, there is a rising demand for processed products like kernels, flavoured nuts, and cashew-based snacks. Entrepreneurs and farmers can explore value addition through processing units, adding value to the final product and increasing their income.

Research and Development- Government agencies and research institutions are continually developing new cashew varieties that are more resilient to pests, diseases, and climate variability. Farmers can benefit from adopting these improved varieties for better yield and profitability.


Cashew farming in India represents a vital sector of the country’s agriculture, offering numerous growth and economic development opportunities. While challenges like climate vulnerability and pest issues persist, the increasing demand for cashew products and the government’s support through various initiatives make cashew farming an attractive venture. 

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