Cashew nuts arrived in West Africa around the 1400s and 1500s through Portuguese explorers. First planted on the coast around Lagos and spreading therefrom into the Nigerian hinterland by human interaction. There was extensive cultivation in the 1950s and plantations were incrementally established especially of Indian varieties across Africa notably in Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique among others.
Cashew nuts have low fat content when compared to other nuts. Nigerian cashew nuts are used as an ingredient in cooking, making sweets, chocolates, and ice cream.
Cashew wood is used for furniture and fishing boats. Phosphorus, magnesium, protein and dietary fibre are some of the nutrients and minerals contained in cashew nuts.
Cashew nut trees are evergreen and can grow to a height of between 10 and 12m though Brazillian dwarf varieties will only reach an optimum height of about 1.5m. They have thick, veined, and oval leaves with blunt tips. The most economically significant part of the cashew is the nut which lies in a kidney-shaped shell attached to the apple.
Nigeria has an average 325,000ha of cultivated area of cashews and is the 7th world exporter globally with about 190,000 tons of production. It holds the position of the 4th largest producer in Africa. Vengurla-7 is the king of cashew nuts. They are expensive and larger in size in comparison to other varieties. VR-1 is the most popular kernels as well as the most available globally, whereas BPP-2 is the cheapest and smallest of all types.
Our cashew nuts are grown in deep and well-drained sandy loam soils and a temperature range of 15° to 40°c. They thrive in the warmth and humidity of the Kogi East climate with a minimum rainfall of 600mm.
Nigeria’s northern latitude placement typically guides our harvest of cashews in the first quarter of the year from January through April. The cashew nut and apple once mature, fall from the tree to the ground. We harvest during dry weather by picking cashew apples and separating the nut from the fruit. Placing the nuts in the sun to dry until the shells are at about 8-10% moisture content. We store the dried raw cashew nuts in cool, dark, dry, and well-ventilated conditions. The raw cashews are thereafter processed to edible cashew kernels through roasting, shelling, and sun drying for about
2-3 days. The cashew nut makes a rattling sound when properly dried. The nuts are then peeled to reveal the kernel which are then graded according to colour and size. Our cashew kernels can be roasted, fried or spiced while the fruit gets juiced.