Cashew is a key player in the global market. No doubt, even as Nigeria is a major and growing player in the cashew industry in the world; thanks to our resilient farmers. Beyond the lucrative nut and juicy-nutritious flesh, it is commonly known for, cashew farming in the country offers a wealth of versatile by-products that have the potential to revolutionise various industries. This article delves into the lesser-known, but equally valuable aspects of cashew farming, highlighting its diverse applications and economic significance.
1. Cashew Shell Liquid (CNSL), the Liquid Gold: Inside the cashew nut lies a valuable resource – Cashew Shell Liquid (CNSL). This viscous, brownish oil extracted from the cashew nut shell is more than just a waste product. CNSL is a multi-faceted compound with numerous applications. One of its primary uses is as a raw material for the production of friction materials like brake linings and clutch facings in the automotive industry. Moreover, CNSL finds applications in the manufacturing of paints, varnishes, and resins, making it a vital component in the chemical industry.
2. Cashew apple delights: Often overlooked and discarded, the cashew apple is an underutilised treasure. The juicy and succulent cashew apple is rich in vitamins and minerals, making it a potential ingredient for nutritious juices, jams, and candies. In recent years, entrepreneurs in Nigeria have been exploring innovative ways to process and preserve the cashew apple, opening up new avenues for value addition in the agri-food sector.
3. Nutritional powerhouse: While cashew nuts are widely-recognised for their nutritional value, their by-products also offer significant health benefits. Cashew nut shells can be processed into powdered supplements rich in antioxidants and dietary fiber, contributing to overall well-being. Harnessing these by-products can play a crucial role in addressing malnutrition and supporting public health initiatives in Nigeria. Cashew nuts can also be used in making drinks, like cashew milk or cashew-based smoothies; there is also cashew butter, which is made by grinding roasted cashew nuts into a spread. It’s a nutritious alternative to regular butter or spreads.
4. Waste-to-energy initiatives: Cashew nut shells, often discarded as waste, can be transformed into a valuable source of renewable energy. Biomass gasification, a technology gaining traction in Nigeria, converts cashew shells into clean-burning gas for electricity generation and cooking fuel. Such waste-to-energy initiatives not only reduce environmental impact, but also alleviate energy poverty in the rural areas.
5. Medicinal uses: In traditional medicine, various parts of the cashew tree, including the bark and leaves, are used to treat ailments like toothaches, diarrhea, and skin infections.