Cashew nut farming in Kenya is mainly practised in the Coastal region, particularly in Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River, Lamu and parts of Taita Taveta.
Varieties of Cashew Nut Grown In Kenya
- A75/ 83.
Ecological Conditions For Growing Cashew Nuts
- Deep and well-drained sandy loam soils with pH of 4.5-6.5.
- Altitude of 1000m above sea level.
- Temperature range between 24°C- 28°C.
- Annual rainfall of 500mm- 1200mm.
Propagation of Cashew Nuts
Cashew Nuts are propagated through seeds. The seeds can be directly propagated or first grafted.
Propagation by direct seeding
It is the most common method of propagation. For each planting holes, 3 seeds are planted. After about 2 months of germination, weak seedlings are uprooted to pave way for the strong ones to grow.
Propagation using grafted seedlings
The first step is to select the best seeds for grafting. The seeds selected are then subjected to a floatation test in water. The seeds that sink are the ones that are planted in pre-germination beds.
The pre-germinated seeds are later transplanted into potting bags when the tap root is 2-3cm.
Grafting is done 3-4 weeks after transplanting in the potting bags. The duration of 3-4 weeks is to allow the seedlings to attain more than 2 functional leaves.
Before planting, land should be thoroughly ploughed and planting holes prepared 1-2 months before planting. The spacing of the planting holes should be 12m by 12m and a depth of 60cm by 60cm.
The top soil should be mixed with DAP (100g) and well-decomposed farmyard manure (2buckets).
Once you have applied the mentioned fertilisers, plant the seedlings at the centre of the hole then cover with mulch.
You can intercrop the seedlings with other crops such as vegetables.
Regularly water the plants to provide the much-needed moisture, for about 3-4 days a week until the plants have grown to a desirable level.
Removal of suckers
Suckers are shoots that grow from the rootstocks. They need to be removed as they compete for food and nutrients with the cashew plants.
This is done to ensure the cashew trees or plants grow in an upright position to a height of about 1.0 to 1.5m. It should be done within the first five years of growth.
Shading is done when drought conditions occur. The seedlings need to be provided with shade to properly grow when conditions are extreme or harsh.
Pests and Diseases
Common pests that attack cashew nut plants include mealybugs, weevils, caterpillars, leaf miners, cashew nut bugs, stem borers and thrips. They can be managed by using recommended insecticides.
Common diseases include Anthracnose, Powdery mildew and Dieback. The diseases can be controlled using recommended copper-based fungicides and other fungicides.
The harvesting period depends on the variety grown and the method of propagation. Grafted seedlings start bearing fruits 2 years after transplanting while seeds grown directly bear fruits after 3-4 years.
Averagely, a hectare can produce over 2,000 kgs of unshelled nuts. A single cashew nut tree yields 10-100 kgs of unshelled nuts.
The market for Cashew Nuts in Kenya
Cashew nuts grown in Kenya are meant for local use and for export. Locally, major buyers of cashew nuts are processing companies that manufacture various products using oil extracted from cashew nuts.
Some of the processors and exporters of cashew nuts include;
- Eureka Nuts EPZ Ltd
- Farmgate East Africa.
- Cashewland Ltd.
- Alba Company Ltd.
- Wondernuts Ltd.