“Uganda hardly registers on the international market for cashew nuts, but that could soon change.”

• Cashew nut (Anacardium occidentale.L) is a tropical evergreen perennial and drought tolerant tree crop.
• It thrives best in dry areas with annual average temperatures above 28°C
• It strives well in deep friable sandy loam or loam soils with average PH levels of 6.5 and 7.5.
• The crop prefers a temperature range of 24 to 40 degrees Celsius and annual rainfall of 800-1,600mm.

Cashew trees can resist drought conditions up to 7 months. The tree has an estimated economic life span of 45 years but can live up to 100 years and having well drained deep sandy loam soils with high textural porosity. This makes it a very suitable commodity for dry cattle corridor areas of Uganda.

Cashew is a multipurpose tree crop, with almost all parts (roots, stem, bark, leaves, apples, shell, skin, and nuts) used. The nut (seed) is considered the most valuable product. The raw cashew apple has high soluble sugar (fructose and sucrose) content, and can be consumed as fresh fruits; or used to make various products such as juice, jam, vinegar and wine. The nut shells yield oil which is used as medicine, preservative and water proofing agent.

The oil is also used in the manufacture of insulating varnishes and acid proof cements, tiles and inks. The shell cake, when burnt, can be used as an energy source in small-scale industries. A cashew tree can yield 25kgs per season. There are two seasons in a year, meaning one can harvest 50kgs per year from a single tree. A farmer can earn a net profit of Ushs. 26 Million at 5th year and Ushs. 96 Million at 6th year from sales of Raw Nuts and Apples in one acre of Cashew investment; and the most nuts found in the market are imported from Kenya South Africa or Tanzania as there no serious cashew nut processors or growers here in Uganda. The retail price for cashew nuts could go up to UGX8000/ per kilo.

The global demand for cashew nuts is about 12m metric tonnes per year, but producing countries can only manage to produce only four million metric tonnes. This means eight million metric tonnes stand in balance. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is currently developing a project to support development of sustainable Cashew nut value chains in Uganda. A total of 61,000 farmers from 61 districts located along the cattle corridor and dry land areas of Uganda are expected to benefit from this project.