Cashew Nuts

The cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale) is a tropical evergreen that produces the cashew nut and the cashew apple. It can grow as high as 14 metres (46 ft), but the dwarf cashew, growing up to 6 metres (20 ft), has proved more profitable, with earlier maturity and higher yields. The cashew nut is served as a snack or used in recipes, like other nuts, although it is actually a seed .The cashew apple is a fruit, whose pulp can be processed into a sweet, astringet fruit drink or distilled into liqueur. The shell of the cashew nut yields derivatives that can be used in many applications from lubricants to paints, and other parts of the tree have traditionally been used for snake-bites and other folk remedies.

Cashew Nuts are grown in Coast Province of Kenya. The country produces about 10,000 metric tonnes of the nuts valued at ksh.264.9 million. Kenya has a potential to produce more than 63,000 metric tonnes valued at Sh1 billion. The sub-sector has the potential to create employment through value addition and fetch the exchequer billions of shillings through exports.

The main cashew inputs includes;seedlings,fertilizers,manures,machinery and equipment. Cashew production involve;land preparation,setting holes,direct planting ,nursery establishment,transplanting,grafting,intercropping,pruning,pest and disease control,soil and water management. Harvesting involves collection of nuts from the farm,sorting,drying,grading, and bagging. Initially cashew collection was under responsibility of national cereal and produce board. Currently the process involve simple linkages from farmers to processors and exporters through middlemen. Processing is the extraction of kernels from the shells through spliting (shelling). The shelling is either done traditionally or Industrial processing. The proccessed kernels are sorted out  into six grading schedules.Processed products find their way both locally and internationally.

Cashew nuts full pdf

The main inputs in cashew production includes; Seeds/seedlings, fertilizer, organic manure,Pestcides& fungicide and  machinery and equipments.

Improved cashew seedlings can be sourced from KALRO - Mtwapa Research Centre (Kenya Agriculture Livestock Research Organisation)and its accredited nurseries.

 DAP,farm yard and  compost manures provide essential  nutrients  and also improve soil water holding capacity

Inorganic fungicide /pestcides are used to control pest and diseases in Cashew.

Machinery and equipments used in cashew value chain includes,Motorized mist blowers / sprayer  pumps,Power Saw,Pruning saw,Slashers,Jembes

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The main activities involved in the cashew production include;land preparation and holing,Nursery Establishment,transplanting, intercropping,fertilization,pest and disease control, harvesting,drying and grading of raw nuts.

 Proper land preparation is  the foundation of a good orchard. Seedlings raised in the nursery are transplanted after 6 weeks and frequent watering at an interval of 3-4 days should be carried out during the first 6months.

Intercropping and weeding reduces nutrient competition  as well as enhancing nitrogen fixation where leguminous crops are used

Regular application of fertilizers  and manures replenishes the nutrients   in the soil.

Pest and diseases can can significantly reduce the  cashew nut production and the quality of the nuts. The main pest and disease includeCashew nut bug, Stem borer,Stem girdler, Powdery Mildew, Anthracnose, Die back on the leaves and branches, Blights

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Trees  start bearing fruits when they are 2 ½ - 3 years old. They reach maturity after 9-10 years .Harvesting starts at the beginning of October and continues till the end of December.

The nuts are collected on weekly basis during the dry season and on daily basis during the wet weather  to avoid fruit rotting or insect damage and stored in dry conditions

Sun dry raw nuts for one to six days to reduce moisture content to 9% or less for safe storage.Correctly dried nuts are pinkish in colour and produce a rattling sound when shaken. No mark can be made on a dry nut with a thumbnail.

Cashew nuts are graded into FAQ (Fair Average Quality) andUG (Under Grade)

Pruning of cashew trees is normally carried outafter harvesting the last nuts and/or before flowering toremove dead, intermingling and diseased   branches.

Pollarding and Coppicing is theremove the whole canopy of aged but productive trees where asTop- working is grafting 3-4 sprouts per stem when pencil thick from canopied trees.


i) Collection of nuts

collection of nuts raw cashew nuts has gone through many changes since the 1970s when cashewwas a scheduled crop. The responsibility of buying raw cashew nuts was given to the NCPB as the sole government agents 

Later marketing was liberalized and the system was opened to all and sundry bringing in other players such as agents and traders who purchased and sold the nuts to Kenya Cashewnut LTD, 

Currently, marketing of raw cashew nuts involves simple linkages of farmers to processors ,exporters through middlemen.


There are 2 methods of nut processing;Traditional artisanal and industrial cashew processing

In Traditional artisanal processing cashew processing nuts are put in open fire  and stirred continuously to avoid scorching until they start burning, there after thrown on sand to extinguish the fire and to remove the remaining humidity on the outer skin.

Industrially the nuts are graded in different size classes , dehumidified at about 16% moisture by spreading water over them andthen, roasted in a hot oil bath .
Both the artisanal and the industrial methods make the shell brittle so that they can be broken easily.

Shelling is mostly done by cheap female labor using special wooden mallets and pieces of bent wire.After shelling the kernels have to be dried to about 6% moisture content, thereafter the testa can be peeled off easily

Whole and broken kernels are graded into 6 grading schedules. There is only a small demand for broken or dark and unevenly roasted kernels

Kernels are dried to 3 % moisture content before they are packed to extend shelf life and prevent fungal and other infections. Kernels for export are vacuum packed.

Shell oil represents about a quarter of the mass of an unshelled nut . This fluid is a mixture of anacardic acid andcardol is the main by-product.

The apples are steamed under pressure or cooked in a 2% salt solution to remove the astringent smell. Addition of gelatin, pectin or lime juice clears the cashew juice from remaining undesirable contents.



Marketing of raw cashew nuts has gone through many changes since the 1970s when cashew was a scheduled crop. At that time the responsibility of buying raw cashew nuts was given to the NCPB as the sole government agents who also appointed cooperative societies as agents(CAP 318).

Later marketing was liberalized and the system was opened to all and sundry bringing in other players such as agents and traders who purchased and sold the nuts to Kenya Cashewnut LTD, the only major processor at that time.

Currently, marketing of raw cashew nuts in Kenya involves simple linkages of farmers to processors ,exporters through middlemen.

Market Destinations

The processed products find their way to both local and international markets, tourism industry and confectionary  processors. Export Market  to India, Netherlands, Israel, Pakistan, Tanzania, Angola, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.


CAP 318 Nuts(Agriculture Act) and oil crop policy in the Agricultural Food and Fisheries Act (AFFA Act 2013) that governs the cashew nut industry



Service Providers

1 KALRO - Mtwapa Research and seed production

State department of agriculture

 Field Extension Services
3 Relevant County Governments Field Extension Services  
4 Coast Development Authority Field Extension Services
5 MIED Strengthening the co-operatives
6 Kenya nut company Cashew processing
7 Nuts of Africa  Cashew processing
8 Equatorial Nuts Processors Cashew processing
9 Wondernut Kenya Ltd Cashew processing www.businesslist
10 Jungle Africa Cashew processing