Success story of Sri Lanka Cashew Corporation :
Delightfully crunchy cashews!
Mildly sweet yet crunchy, the taste of cashew nuts has been a hot
favourite among many. This delightfully nutritious fruit is closely
related to the mango and Pistachio plants. Though the tastes and sizes
of cashew differ according to the area where it is grown, one fact
remains true. Everyone loves its tantalizing, crispy essence.
* Eating cashew nuts
is good for those with ischaemic heart disease, which is caused by an
obstruction in an artery and account for about 80 percent of all
* Reduces the
* Controls diabetes
* It comprises iron,
calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A, B, and C
* It improves blood
circulation by 20 percent
* The chemical
properties in cashew nuts help people retain their youthful look, good
for the skin colour and its lustre, and ensure long life
we compare engaging in easy tasks to eating cashew, the reality is that
a lot of work goes into planting, trending and peeling cashew. Cashew
nut processing takes time and effort. The cashew has to be dried in
sunlight properly before the peeling process takes place.
The peeling is done using a special machine. Around 20 kilos of
unpeeled cashew are inserted into the machine at a time. Around 80
percent out of the lot comes as whole cashew nuts while the rest comes
in pieces. Next the peeled cashew is laid out on trays and roasted in an
oven for nearly six hours. This process ensures that the cashew lasts
for about five or six months because three to five percent of moisture
is removed from the nut. It also makes it easier to skin the kernel.
The final product after all this labour is that which you find in the
market as kernels and roasted cashew. Cashew was originally introduced
to Sri Lanka from Brazil by the Portuguese in the 16th Century. More
than half the cashew extant is confined to the dry zone: Puttalam,
Anamaduwa, Eluwankulama, Nikaweratiya, Mannar, Batticaloa, Ampara, Maha
Oya and Moneragala. Around 25,961 hectares have been used for cashew
Recently the Government took measures to re-plant Sri Lanka’s largest
cashew cultivation land Kondaichchi in Silawathura which spread through
6,444 acres of land. The area had been abandoned and deserted after the
LTTE took control in 1990. Incepted on May 5, 1973, the Sri Lanka Cashew
Corporation’s profit- making took a nosedive due to certain
malpractices. However it had been recently rejuvenated under its present
Chairman Sanath Weerakon.
“We only market high quality cashew. The product is sterilized. Some
private sellers use wheat flour, egg whites and glue to give the cashew
a shine. They even mix new kernels with the old. Some are not properly
roasted and cannot be kept for a longer period. The best quality cashew
is ivory coloured.
A cashew stall
They snap loudly when you break them in half,” Weerakon explained.
Around 20,000 metric tons of cashew is the market demand but only around
8,000 metric tons can be provided by local dealers. “There are many
myths about eating cashew. But now more people have become aware of the
benefits of consuming cashew. It is expensive because of its high
nutritional values,” he noted.
Corporation provides subsidies for cashew growers. They also upgrade
them on their newest techniques and has arranged a series of programmes
to popularize cashew plantation. Rs 9,500 is donated for one acre of
budded cashew cultivation and Rs 3,500 for one acre of seed cashew.
Seedlings and budded plants are given free. We buy their crop for a
“Cashew is normally planted from November to January. This is the
time of the North East Monsoon. Normal lifespan of a tree is about 30
years. The flowering season starts by November and continues up to
March. Cashew nut harvesting is usually carried out in the months of May
to July by gathering fallen nuts. It takes four to five years for trees
to bear fruit, but budded plants bear fruit in three and a half years.
They also yield four to five times more crop than seed plants,” Weerakon
said adding that Batticaloa cashew growers prefer the seed plants
because they can tolerate the weather.
The cashew plant does not demand much attention once it is over a
year old. It is not easily prone to pests and diseases. All it takes is
adding fertilizers at necessary periods to get a bountiful crop.
Earlier the cashew fruit was used to make wine. They are also hoping
to make oil using the cashew husk. The Cashew Corporation headquarters
was earlier situated in Colpetty. The place was hidden from view without
even parking space for customers to stop their vehicles to buy cashew.
Once Weerakon took over they moved to a spacious environment in
Rajagiriya. The residence comprises a cashew boutique which sells
dehydrated, raw, chillies mixed and roasted and salted kernels. They
also have another cashew stall near McDonald’s in Colpetty.
Sri Lanka Cashew Corporation Chairman Sanath Weerakon
Pictures by Saman Sri Wedage
The cashew production unit in Nadagamuwa
“Sometimes we earn about Rs 200,000 a day. Unfortunately we have not
been able to produce enough cashew to cater to the market demands.
Therefore we import cashew from India, Indonesia, Tanzania, Nigeria,
Ivory Coast, Vietnam and Thailand. However the best cashew in the world
is found in Sri Lanka. It has been proven through research. Sri Lanka
being an island is quite appropriate for cashew cultivation,” he
expressed adding that his aim is to increase production and stop cashew
importation. He hopes to achieve his target in 2013. He also aims to
make Sri Lanka to the top ten countries which produce cashew in the
world by 2016.