Economy of Cashew nut in hills
Cashew nut is one of the most well-known crops of the hilly areas. This is one of the main sources of income for them. Each of the hill tribes calls them by different names. In Chakma language it is known as Hajubadam or Tanglu, in Marma language it is known as Badangsi, in Bam language it is known as Kashanak, in Tripura language it is known as Badam-Bathai and in Chattogram local language it is known as Tam and in English it is known as Kashnat or Kazubadam in Bengali. Why not call that by any name? His value is increasing day by day.
It has been cultivated in the hills for a long 20-30 years in a state of neglect. No one could understand his value then. Demand for this specialty has grown significantly as a result of recent corporate scandals. Its demand is also huge in the international market. As a result, there is an immense potential for export. But in order to export to the world market, its quality must be considered first and foremost. There is a need for research for that.
Export is possible only through research, innovation of improved varieties, production and processing of quality nuts. The present agri-friendly government is quite sincere about the development, expansion and export of cashew cultivation. As a result, a new project entitled ''Cashew nut and Coffee Research, Development and Extension'' project is being implemented by BARI & DAE with the kind support of Ministry of Agriculture in nine districts including hill districts over the country. It will no doubt contribute to the country's economy.
Cashew nut is on the list of potential export products of the country. This crop has economic importance as well as nutritional value which are quite amazing for health. Cashew nut is good for heart, diabetic, digestive, help prevent cancer, prevent gallstones and kidney stones, work on emptying blood, help build bones and teeth, reduce bone pressure, reduce fatigue and help you sleep better. The hilly region can be called a gateway for expansion and development of cashew cultivation.
This hilly region covers one tenth of the country. The climate and soil of the region are all suitable for cashew nut cultivation. Half of the cashew nuts produced in the country come from the Bandarban Hill District. It is widely cultivated especially in Thanchi and Ruma upazilas. With the help of modern cultivation including improved varieties, this cashew cultivation revolution will take place in the entire three hill districts. As cashew is not perishable, there are opportunities to cultivate them in remote areas of the hills.
There is still a lot of fallow land in the hilly areas. Lack of irrigation facilities makes farming difficult. Since cashew nut is a tropical fruit. So it takes less water. The hilly areas do not receive much rainfall from November to April/May. At that time the weather is quite dry and hot. In that case, the other crops could not stand, but the cashew nut survived.
The cost of cultivating cashew nut is comparatively much less. This crop does not require much fertilizer and irrigation. However, it is important to determine the recommended fertilizer level for high yielding cashew trees. It needs research. It goes without saying that insects and spiders do not attack as much. Productivity will increase if the common diseases and pests are controlled. At present the average productivity (yield) of cashew per hectare is known to be 1.5-1.8 tons. However, it is possible to increase its productivity through research.
Cashew is a very profitable crop in terms of profitability because this cashew nut is not just nuts. Its multidimensional use exists. It can be said that it is polymorphic in the same way. Experts are of the opinion that the oil produced from the peel of cashew nut can be used to make high quality organic pesticides, vinegar and alcohol. Juice can be made from the top fruit adjacent to the nuts. This cashew apple fruit contains 70 percent juice.
The cashew apple is rich in many nutrients. This juice contains 6 times more vitamin C than oranges. It is possible to earn extra income by selling these processed juices. For every 3.5-4.0 kg of peeled nuts, 1 kg of processed nuts is available. The average market price is 800-1200 takas per kg. The price of peeled cashew nut at the farmer level is 50-60 takas. Basically, it is possible to get higher value of these nuts through processing. So there is no alternative to establish a processing plant. At present there are processing factories in Rangamati, Muslimpara in Bandarban and Pataya in Chattogram. The number of factories needs to be increased in line with the increase in production.
The main challenge in cashew nut cultivation in the hills is to ensure fair price to the farmers by increasing the productivity of the existing varieties. As the roots of the cashew nut tree are shallow, the fruit tree is uprooted in the wind. It also happens because the planting method is not correct. Cashew nut orchards are mostly in remote areas, so transportation costs are high.
Besides, there is the violence of traders. Farmers are indifferent and inexperienced in collecting, drying and storing almonds. Almonds fall from the tree when ripe. Due to the farmer not collecting it from the soil at the right time, it becomes black when it comes in contact with the soil or gets wet in rain water and the quality is lost. As a result, the market price goes down a lot.
In this case, the fallen nuts need to be collected and dried quickly and stored properly. It is important to cultivate more productive varieties. At the same time, there is a need to provide hands-on training to farmers on modern production techniques, procurement and post-collection management and marketing. If quality nuts are supplied by grading in the processing factory, higher price will be ensured. At the same time, if we can produce quality cashew nut by following the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), the export opportunities will increase manifold.
Dr M Jamal Uddin, Senior
Scientist of BARI; Former
National Consultant, FAO-UN