Cashew Farming: Growing, Care, Harvesting and Cost

March 29, 2022


Cashew farming is one of the most lucrative farming ventures today in Nigeria. Cashew farming involves the cultivation of cashew trees for the purpose of consumption, making money or both.

Cashew farming is done in 27 states in Nigeria. Most of the cashew farmers in Nigeria are small holder farmers, however, there are some big time farmers now investing in several hundreds of hectares of cashew.

Cashew is most widely grown in Nigerian states of Kaduna, Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue, kwara, Lagos, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, Edo, Delta, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi and Abia. Kogi is the largest cashew producing state in Nigeria.

Nigeria currently exports about 200,000 tons of cashew nuts annually.

Cashew

Cashew is a perennial crop as it can be on a farmland for several years. There are instances of cashew trees that are older than 40 years.

The origin of cashew can be traced to Brazil before it was introduced to Africa and Asia. Cashew is actively grown in Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Ivory Coast and other African countries. It is also grown in Indian and other Asian countries.

Cashew is a tropical crop; it does well in tropical conditions. Cashew does not grow in temperate climes.

Cashew is mainly grown for its nuts. Though, the fruits can be consumed and can also be made into juice. There are some firms in Nigeria that extracts and packages cashew juice. However, most of the cashew farmers in Nigeria grow the crop for its nuts.

Cashew nuts are usually exported out of Nigeria where they are roasted and packed as snacks.

cashew farming in nigeria

How to Cultivate Cashew in Nigeria

Below are the steps to take to cultivate cashew or start a cashew plantation in Nigeria:

  1. Selection of Site for Farmland
  2. Soil Preparation
  3. Picking the Cashew Variety to Plant
  4. Equipment
  5. Irrigation
  6. Climatic Conditions
  7. Nursery Preparation and Management
  8. Transplanting of Cashew Seedlings to Field
  9. Weed Control
  10. Fertilizer and Manure Management
  11. Management of Pests and Diseases
  12. Harvesting
  13. Processing of Cashew
  14. Marketing

1. Farmland to use for Cashew Plantation

To grow cashew, you will need to have ownership of the farmland to use. Getting a farmland on lease is not advisable as cashew is a perennial crop that can be cultivated for several years.

The farmland to be used should have a good soil profile probably a sandy soil with humus and laterite. The farmland should also have a good access road so that the produce from the farm can easily be evacuated to the market.

2. Climatic Conditions Suitable for Cashew Farming

Cashew is a tropical crop, it can grow in warm and hot climatic conditions. Cashew cannot tolerate frost and cold.

Cashew general is cultivated in a areas that are at least 650 metres above sea level. It also prefers locations with temperature above 20 Celsius. Cashew can tolerate temperatures as high as 32 Celsius, even in some cases higher.

Cashew will do well in areas with annual rainfall of 1000 – 200 mm. Cashew unlike most crops needs at least 4 months of dry season in order to maximize its yield. This is why cashew does very well in the savannah areas of Nigeria where the dry season is more pronounced than the rain forest area.

If the humidity and rainfall is too high, flowering and fruiting in cashew crop may be negatively impacted.

3. Soil Suitable for Cashew Cultivation

Cashew can grow in sandy soil, sandy loamy soil and sandy laterite soil. Cashew can tolerate a lot of soil types. Soil with good humus is beneficial to the growing of cashew. Sandy soil will need to be amended with nutrients because of their general lack of nutrients.

Cashew will also not do well in water logged soil or areas. The crop generally prefers dry soil.

The soil pH should be 4.0 – 7.0. Cashew will perform poorly in very acidic soil and soil with too much alkaline. Soil that is too acidic should be amended with dolomite or limestone or agrilime. Soil that has too much alkaline can also be amended with acids.

cashew plantation

4. Soil Preparation

Trees, stumps and weeds should be removed from the farmland to make space for cashew plantation. This is usually done if the farmland is a virgin forest. Bulldozers can be used to remove the trees and stumps; however, care must be exercised so that the top soil will not be removed. 

After the removal of the trees and stumps, the soil should be ploughed and harrowed. Ridging can also be done. Please note that if the farmland is a virgin forest, ploughing and harrowing may not be done. For areas prone to floods, ridging may be used before planting the cashew seedlings.

For soil with low organic matter, farmyard manure, animal manure and compost can be added to the soil. These should be mixed to the soil through ploughing.

The soil should be ploughed several times till the soil forms a fine tilth. Harrowers can also be used to harrow the soil.

High phosphate fertilizer like Single Super Phosphate fertilizer or Diammonium Phosphate Fertilizer should be applied to every pit meant for planting of the cashew seedlings. Depending on how fertile the soil is, up to 250 grams of Single Super Phosphate fertilizer may be applied per planting hole.

About 100 oil palm seedlings can be planted on one hectare of farmland, if the planting pattern of 8 metres by 5 metres is used. If planting space of 7.5 metres by 7.5 metres is used, 175 cashew trees can be planted on one hectare. For high density cashew planting, up to 500 cashew trees can be planted on one hectare.

5. Cashew Varieties

cashew plantation in nigeria

Below are some of the varieties of cashew that can be planted in Nigeria, they are:

Nigerian Cashew Variety

This variety is the local open pollinated cashew variety. It has been planted in Nigeria for several years. It has some tolerances and resistances to pests and diseases prevalent in Nigeria. It has a low yield. Local farmers often achieve yields of less than 0.5 tons of cashew nuts per hectare.

This variety starts fruiting after 4 – 5 years.

Brazilian Jumbo Cashew Variety

The Brazilian Jumbo cashew variety is an improved cashew variety. It has a better yield than the local Nigerian cashew variety. It can yield up to 1 ton of cashew nuts per hectare. This variety starts fruiting after 2.5 years.

Indian Dwarf Cashew Variety

This variety is an improved cashew variety. This cashew variety can yield up to 1.5 tons per hectare. This variety starts fruiting after 2.5 years.

Please note that it takes an average of 3- 5 years for a cashew tree to grow and start fruiting.

6. Equipment

The following equipment can be used for cashew farming:

With mechanization, farm operations efficiency can improve, also the need for human labour can be reduced.

7. Irrigation

Cashew does extremely well under irrigation. With irrigation, the yield of cashew can be increased by as much as 100%. Irrigation can also speed up the time to maturity of the cashew crop.

Irrigation involves the artificial application of water to crops. In the case of cashew, with irrigation, plant population can be increased and yield can also be increased.

The following types of irrigation can be used for cashew:

  • Drip Irrigation: Drip irrigation is a type of irrigation that provides for the wetting of the root zone of plants. In drip irrigation systems, a network of drip tapes, pipes or hoses and emitters are used to pass water to crops. For cashew, drip irrigation can be used to provide water for the crops. Drip irrigation with Fertigation can allow for ultra-high density planting of cashew. This can significantly increase the yield of the crop.
  • Sprinkler: Sprinklers work like rain; they spray water to the crops. Cashew can do well if sprinklers are used for irrigating it. Spray tubes, rain hoses, center pivots and rain guns are some types of sprinklers that can be used to irrigate cashew.
  • Furrow Irrigation: This is the passing of water between the ridges or beds on a farmland. Though, this is a type of irrigation, if not well done, it can lead to root rot in plants.

8. Cashew Seeds and Nursery Management

Cashew seeds are seeded in shade before hardening off and planted in the field or orchard. Cashew seeds can be placed in growing bags while under shade.

The nursery house must be shaded with a shade net. Some cashew farmers grow their cashew seedlings under the shade of large trees.

The growing bags often made of polythene should be filled with soil mixed with organic matter. The cashew seed should then be buried in the soil. Adequate wetting regime should be implemented so that the seeds will sprout and grow well.

Once the cashew seedlings are of age, they should be transplanted to the field. Young cashew seedlings on the field should be supported with stakes especially in an area that is very windy.

Sprinklers can be used to provide irrigation for the young seedlings in the nursery.

Cashew Growing

9. Transplanting of Cashew Seedlings

Cashew seedlings when of age should be transplanted to the field or the orchard. Transplantation of seedlings should be done in the early morning or late evening when there is little or no sun.

The field should be well irrigated before the transplanting of the cashew seedlings. Farmyard manure or compost should be available and there must have been the digging of planting holes before transplanting of seedlings.

Carefully remove the cashew seedlings from the grow bag or planting bag and place the planting hole on the field. Fill up the hole with a mix of soil, farmyard manure or compost and 100-200 grams of Single Super Phosphate fertilizer (SSP).

Mychorizhae and other microbial innoculants may be placed in the planting pit to speed up the growth of the cashew seedlings. If the soil is infected with nematodes, suitable nematicides should be applied.

About 100 cashew seedlings can be planted on one hectare of farmland, if the planting pattern of 8 metres by 5 metres is used.

Please note that over 500 cashew seedlings can be planted on one hectare of farmland if drip irrigation with Fertigation system is used.

10. Grafting of Cashew Seedlings

Cashew seedlings can be grafted on trees. There are two types of grafting methods in cashew plants namely the side grafting and the wedge grafting.

The side grafting is the attaching of the cashew seedling to the side of the tree. Grafting should be done when the seedlings are 3 – 4 months old.

11. Weed Control

Herbicides can be used for weed control in cashew plantation. Some herbicides can provide several months of weed control in cashew plantation. You just need to spray the herbicides on the soil. However, care must be taken so that the herbicides do not touch the cashew trees.

Cover crops can also be used as weed control. Cover crops cover the surface of the soil and serve as shield against erosion and nutrients leaching.

Plastic mulches and organic mulches can also be used to control the growth of weeds. Black plastic mulch can prevent the growth of weeds on cashew plantations.

Cutlasses, hoes and motorized weeders can also be used to remove weeds on cashew farms.

12. Training and Pruning of Cashew

In the first year of the cashew tree, the sprouts emanating from the root stock should be removed so that nutrients can be directed to where they are needed most.

Pruning should be done frequently so that nutrients can be directed to the flowers and fruits. Excessive pruning can negatively impact the growth of the cashew tree. The lower branches should be removed in the first three years so that the tree can grow to form a shade. After the 4th year, pruning is not necessarily needed again.

13. Fertilizer and Manure Application in Cashew Farming

Though, in Nigeria, most cashew farmers do not apply adequate fertilizers to their cashew crop. The assumption is that cashew does not need a lot of fertilizer. This is far from the truth. Cashew is a heavy feeder like most tree and fruit crops, it needs a lot of fertilizers and manure.

10 – 15 kg of farmyard manure or well cured animal manure should be mixed with soil and added to each planting hole. 500 grams of NPK 15:15:15 fertilizer and 100 grams of Single Super Phosphate (SSP) fertilizer should be added to every planting hole.

The fertilizers should be applied in a ring form around each cashew tree. Fertigation can also be used to apply fertilizers; in this case, small doses of fertilizers will be applied to the cashew crop intermittently. Fertigation is more efficient than top dressing and side dressing of fertilizers.

Microbial innoculants and micronutrients can also be added to cashew trees. The use of potassium humate like King Humus Plus can also positively impact the cashew crop.

Some of the fertilizers that can be used for cashew farming include the following:

  • NPK fertilizers
  • Single Super Phosphate Fertilizer
  • Urea
  • Potassium Humate
  • Boron Fertilizer
  • Calcium Magnesium Nitrate Fertilizer
  • Potassium Nitrate
  • Potassium Sulfate etc.

Fertilizers that are soluble can be passed to the cashew through in a process called Fertigation, this is done through the drip irrigation system.

Fertilizer Recommendation for Cashew

Age of the tree

FYM (kg)

Urea (gram)

Super Phosphate (gram)

Muriate of Potash (gram)

Year 1

9

140

230

90

Year 2

19

280

460

180

Year 3

29

430

720

270

Year 4

39

550

950

350

Year 5 and above

49

1100

1190

460

For more on fertilizer recommendation for cashew, please read here.

14. Pests and Diseases of Cashew Crop

The following are the pests and diseases that affect cashew crop and how to prevent or manage the diseases:

Cashew Swollen Shoot Disease

This disease presents with a swollen shoot of the cashew tree. It is transmitted by mealy bugs to cashew trees. This disease can reduce the yield of cashew trees to near zero. It can also lead to the production of misshaped cashew fruits and nuts. Good insecticides can be used to control the vector of the disease.

Die Back Disease

The die back disease presents with the death of shoots, stems and leaves of the cashew tree Mired bugs and capsids are the vectors of this disease.

Cashew Canker Disease

This is a disease caused by an oomycete. The oomycete is called Phytophthora Palmivora. This disease can lead to the death of the cashew tree. A good fungicide should be used to prevent it.

Other pests that can affect oil palm crop incude:

  • Mirids
  • Mealy Bugs
  • Aphids
  • Caterpillars
  • Termites
  • Nematodes etc.

15. Harvesting

Cashew fruits after 3 – 4 years depending on the variety planted. Some varieties take a longer time to fruit. Cashew fruits are usually harvested when they turn yellow or red.

Sickles attached to wooden or iron poles are used to harvest cashew fruits. These fruits are packed in trailers and moved to the processing yard or plant.

The shaking of the branches of the tree can also result to the harvest of some cashew fruits. Cashew fruits can be juiced and the pulp used for animal or human consumption.

The cashew nuts are dried before they are packed for usage. The nuts can also be roasted and packed for consumption.

Yield of Cashew

The yield of cashew depends on the soil type, climate, availability of water, types of fertilizers used and other agronomic conditions.

One cashew tree 3 – 12kg of nuts depending on the variety planted, age of the cashew tree and the agronomic practices implemented.

cashew nuts

Processing of Cashew Products

The cashew products can be processed into the following:

  • Cashew Juice
  • Cashew Nuts
  • Cashew Pulp Drink
  • Cashew Drink etc.

Grading and Packaging of Cashew

Cashew kernels are graded using six grading schedules. The last grade is the broken and unevenly roasted kernel, this has a low demand and the sales price is not attractive.

Cashew kernels are usually dried to 3% moisture level before they are packed and exported.

Intercropping in Cashew Plantation

Leguminous crops like soybeans, groundnuts and cowpea should be planted. Aside that they cover the soil surface, they also improve the quality of the soil by fixing nitrogen to the soil. The fixed nitrogen can positively impact the growth of the cashew crop.

Heavy feeders and crops like maize should not be planted when the cashew trees are still very young. They can grow and shade the cashew trees.

Cashew can also be intercropped with coconut and cocoa.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a One Hectare Cashew Farm in Nigeria

The cost to start a one hectare cashew farm is detailed below:

  • Acquisition of one hectare farmland: N100,000 – N400,000
  • Surveying and Land Documentation: N100,000 – N200,000
  • Clearing, Ploughing and Harrowing: N50,000
  • Seedlings: N40,000
  • Planting: N10,000
  • Irrigation: N300,000 – N650,000 (Optional)
  • Fertilizers and Manure: N20,000 – N100,000 (Depending on soil fertility)
  • Pesticides: N20,000
  • Others: N100,000

For a detailed cost analysis, please contact us through sales@veggieconcept.ng.

Advantages of Cashew Plantation

The following are the advantages of having a cashew plantation:

  • It can provide a lifelong income.
  • A cashew plantation can provide employment opportunities.
  • Cashew trees can protect the environment.
  • The derivatives of cashew trees can be used as food for human and animals.
  • Biodiesel and other industrial materials can be derived from cashew trees
  • The export of cashew products can increase the foreign exchange reserve of Nigeria.

Cashew Market in Nigeria

Most of the cashew nuts produced in Nigeria are exported to Vietnam, India and other countries. Nigeria exported 184.2 thousand tons of cashew nuts in the year 2020, according to Statista.

Nigeria remains one of the largest exporters of unprocessed cashew nuts in the world.

Questions and Answers on Cashew Farming

a) Question: How can I get cashew seedlings to buy in Nigeria?

Answer: You can contact Veggie Concept on 08025141924

b) Question: Do I need drip irrigation for my cashew farm?

Answer: Drip irrigation will increase the yield of your cashew crop significantly; however, you may rely on rains and get a low yield.

c) Question: Is cashew farming profitable in Nigeria?

Answer: Yes, cashew farming is lucrative. You can make good profit from growing cashew in Nigeria.

d) Question: Does cashew have seasons when it comes to sales?

Answer: Yes, cashew is seasonal. During cashew season, farmers harvest the fruits and dry the nuts.

e) Question: Is cashew a high yielding crop?

Answer: Cashew can be high yielding if you use drip irrigation and implement good agronomic practices.

f) Question: Where can I get high quality inputs for my cashew farm?

Answer: You can contact us to buy high quality inputs for farming. You can also get from credible dealers around you.

Should you wish to know more about cashew farming or you want to set up a cashew plantation, please contact us on 08025141924 or send an email to sales@veggieconcept.ng.

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