Raw Cashew Process Africa | Source African Cashew | Raw Cashews for Cashew Processing
Africa accounts for 53% of global cashew production. As a result, processing raw cashew nuts at the source has become a lucrative business in Africa, as international buyers prefer high-quality kernels processed at the source. Traceability, strong supply chain connections, and compliance with international food safety standards are critical factors in establishing a competitive African raw cashew nut processing business. Despite the diverse experiences of many industry participants, technical and entrepreneurial information on raw cashew nut processing is severely lacking.
Cashew Processing in Africa
A series of activities are involved in the processing of raw cashew nuts in order to transform the raw cashew nuts into high quality kernels for consumption. The process is labor intensive, has many steps, and requires a critical choice of technology and methods at each step for efficient and competitive processing.
Processors can choose the best processing model for their business based on the technology mix, methods, and systems available at each step. This guidebook describes the steps in raw cashew nut processing as well as some of the commonly used methods, technologies, and trends in cashew processing.
Basic steps involve primary processing steps of heat treatment, shelling and peeling, and cashew kernel grading.
African Cashew Processing
The raw cashew nut processing process begins with properly drying and storing the raw cashew nuts for year-round processing. The following steps involve a variety of activities designed to separate the cashew kernel from its shell. The cashew kernel is the final edible consumer product.
This complex process adds significant value to the raw cashew nut. The following are the goals of raw cashew nut processing:
• Extracting as many kernels as possible from the raw cashew nut
• Preventing kernel breakage
• Ensuring the distinctive light ivory cashew color is preserved
• Keeping the kernels’ natural flavor. It is important to note that naturally tasting cashew kernels are free of chlorophenol off flavors.
• Ensuring that kernels meet international food safety standards for human consumption.
The achievement of these goals results in the acquisition of high-quality cashew kernels at reasonable prices.
Unlike almonds and hazelnuts, which have a hollow shell around the nut, the cashew kernel is cushioned in a hard shell by a honeycomb layer called the testa. As a result, processing the raw cashew nut entails more complex steps in order to obtain the half-moon shaped, light ivory, and naturally tasting kernel.
Three (3) key stages are involved in the raw cashew nut processing:
a) Heat treatment: Applying direct heat, hot oil, or steam to raw cashew nuts prepares them for shelling and makes shell removal easier.
b) Shelling and peeling: The hard shell is cracked or cut to expose the kernel with testa, allowing it to be separated from the shell. After shelling, the testa of the cashew kernel must be removed. After removing the shell and testa, the white kernels are obtained. The corrosive Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL) contained in the shells can burn or blister workers’ hands. It can also harm cashew processing equipment.
c) Grading: The classification of kernels and packaging for distribution and sale is the final stage of the primary processing process.
These three basic (3) stages of raw cashew nut processing involve various heating, shelling, and peeling methods. Any method’s application is dependent on available technologies and resources, such as access to electricity, water, and labor, as well as knowledge of local customs.
The investor and potential processor must make decisions on processing scale, systems, and cashew processing models during the planning stage of establishing a raw cashew nut processing factory, which are described and discussed in the following sections.
Almost half of the global cashew nut production takes place in Africa, where the tree is considered a ‘tropical’ crop. The most significant cashew producing countries are Nigeria, Benin, and Tanzania. The main export markets are India and Vietnam.
In addition to its nutritional value, cashews are used in drinks and as snacks. Increasing demand for these products in the global market opens up new opportunities for African processors. Developing a real cashew industry in Cote d’Ivoire could help to diversify the country’s agricultural exports and create jobs.
The production of raw cashews is a good source of income for 3 million smallholder farmers in Africa. In addition, the demand for organic products is also on the rise. However, most of the cashews are processed in countries such as India. These countries have long supply chains, which could pose challenges for African processors.
For example, India exports cashew kernels for 3.5 times the price paid to farmers in Cote d’Ivoire. This is a reflection of the flow of wealth from Africa to India.
There is potential for Cote d’Ivoire to improve its productivity and environmental impact by investing in a cashew processing industry. In order to do so, the country needs to increase its processing capacity to at least 100,000 tonnes a year. This would create jobs and additional government revenue.
West African Cashew Farmers
The cashew nut are grown extensively in West Africa. It is an important crop for the region, providing income and livelihoods for millions of small-scale farmers.
But over the past decade, volatile political has been brewing in West Africa and it has had devastating consequences for cashew farmers.
The price of cashews on international markets has dropped dramatically, putting pressure on local producers to sell their crops at lower prices.
Meanwhile, import tariffs have increased dramatically in some countries, making it cheaper to buy imported cashews than those grown locally.
Farmers in West Africa are often victims of poverty and hunger. They have to produce cashew nuts for export, which is a very time-consuming process. That is why they need assistance from the government to help them improve their productivity and quality of life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Côte d'Ivoire in west Africa with our 750,000 Tons annually is the largest producer of cashew nuts in Africa, followed by India.
Yes, cashews grow in Africa. In-fact is a main crop in many countries and means of livelihood for millions of farmers across East Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Senegal etc ) West Africa (Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi etc )
Côte d'Ivoire is the largest exporter of raw cashew nuts in the world followed by Benin, Guinea Bissau etc.