Brazil expects a record cashew nut harvest this year. According to figures supplied by the sector, production may rise as high as 300,000 tons in this harvest, which began in the second half of September and should end in November.
"This year the harvest was delayed a little as the rainy season took a little longer to end, but this has also improved productivity," said the technician specialized in the product at the National Food Supply Company (Conab), Débora de Moura.
And as cashew nuts are mainly turned to the foreign market, exports should also rise. According to Débora, around 85% of the production goes abroad processed, ready for consumption.
Last year, according to Débora, production was 160,000 tons. Each ton of raw cashew nuts generates 230 kilograms of processed cashew nuts, ready for consumption. In 2005, exports totaled 41,000 tons, against 47,000 in 2004 and 40,000 in 2003. Brazil is the third main producer in the world, losing only to India and Vietnam.
The main destination for Brazilian cashew nuts was the United States, distantly followed by Europe and Canada, explained Débora. The Arab countries also bought the product. Last year a total of 1,500 tons were shipped to the region, generating US$ 6.2 million.
In Débora’s evaluation, production, which has been growing over the years, should continue growing in years to come. This is because plants of the "early dwarf" variety, developed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) should start producing. The plant adapts well to some regions that grow the fruit and has greater productivity than the traditional trees.
Cashew production is concentrated in the northeastern region of Brazil, and the three main producers are the states of Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte and Piauí, with smaller harvests being found in the states of Maranhão, Paraíba and Bahia. Cashew is a culture that is developed mainly by small farmers, although large organizations process the product.
Cashew nuts are common appetizers, like peanuts and pistachio nuts. The product is also used in the food industry as an ingredient in chocolate and ice cream. Apart from the nut, the cashew fruit is used to make juice.
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