Cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) a native of Eastern Brazil introduced to India just as other commercial crops like Rubber, Coffee, Tea etc. by the Portuguese nearly five centuries back. The first introduction of cashew in India was made in Goa from where it spread to other parts of the country. In the beginning it was mainly considered as a crop for afforestation and soil binder to check erosions. The nuts, apple and other by products of this crop are of commercial importance. Though its commercial exploitation began from the early 1960’s, marginal lands and denuded forests were the areas set apart for the plantation development. Due to the absence of high yielding varieties and multiplication techniques, seeds and seedlings were used for plantation development in an unscientific manner. However, as a result of governmental interventions, coupled with sustained efforts of Research, Development organizations and farmers the development of Cashew Plantations has become re oriented in a scientific manner to great extent.Because of its adaptive ability in wide range of agro climatic conditions and excellent return per unit area, Cashew has attained the status of an export oriented crop of high commercial value.
Indian Cashew is known world-wide for its excellent quality.India being a leader in cashew production is also world’s largest producer, processor and exporter of cashew kernels.Cultivation of cashew in India confines mainly to the peninsular areas. It is grown in Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra along the west coast and Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal along the east coast. Cashew is also being cultivated in Chattisgarh, North Eastern States (Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland) and Andaman Nicobar Islands to a limited extent.
Cashew is one of the most important horticulture crops of the country and ranks high among the Agri-Horticultural commodities getting exported from India.Cashew not only earns valuable foreign exchange to the tune of about Rs.4000 crores per annum but also provides sustainable employment opportunities to 1.5 million people in processing and agrarian sector, especially women, thereby contributing substantially to rural economy.