How to plant and grow Cashew

The cashew nut is mainly farmed in the west of Zambia. With low production levels, low cashew quality and the lack of quality standards, this is definitely an agricultural opportunity to explore in Zambia.

Cashews grow on trees. They are also known as nuts. However, the cashew nut is not the only fruit of the cashew tree. The other part is called the cashew apple. The cashew nut is found inside the kidney shaped shell that is attached to the bottom of the cashew apple.

The planting process

Cashew trees grow like weeds with plenty of water. Also, they are fairly draught resistant and grow well even on marginal soils where other fruit trees would fail. The best soils for growing cashews are sandy soils. Select a well drained spot, preferably a place that has some protection from strong winds.

If you want to grow your trees from seeds you can start them in pots or straight in the ground. Keep them moist and they’ll sprout within four or five days. The best time to plant cashew seeds is when you can get hold of fresh seed. The sooner you plant the fresh seed, the better.

cashew tree
Mature trees can grow to 12 metres tall so plant 10 metres apart. Plant each cashew seed about 10 cm deep into the potting soil. The seeds take about four to six days to germinate. Since cashew trees grow well in sandy soil, add some sand or limestone.

After germination

As you wait the three years for the cashew tree to produce fruit, be sure to water and fertilize it. Irrigate during dry periods, and fertilize the trees when they actively grow, as well as during flowering and nut development. Prune periodically to remove parts of the cashew trees that aren’t useful, limit chance of disease, and improve overall health. Those planted inside should be trimmed as needed. If insects like the twig borer start to eat at the branches, spray with insecticide.

When the cashew tree blooms, the fruit is almost ready. The cashew apple, which is what the cashew nut hangs from, turns deep red when it’s ripe. Then, it’s time to put on gloves and pick the apples and nuts. While the nuts require extra processing, the apple can be eaten or made into juice immediately. The cashew apple is rarely seen in stores, so take advantage of the chance to eat this incredibly sweet fruit. Also inside that shell is a very nasty, caustic liquid that causes severe burns, so be careful when handling it.

Separate the cashew apple from the nut, and enjoy the apple. Luckily the nuts keep very well inside their shells. You can store them for two years so you don’t have to process every batch you pick. Keep them somewhere cool and dry until you have enough to justify the effort of processing them.


23 Replies to “How to plant and grow Cashew”

    1. Hi Jaco,

      Please check with Chunyu Nursery in Mfuwe. They can arrange delivery anywhere. Call them between 08:00 and 16:00
      Phone +260 216 245133
      Mobile +260 962 345590, +260 978 345590

  1. A very interesting article, where can one buy the seeds for cashew nuts? I’m in the Chisamba/chongwe area and we’ve sandy soils but since government has prioritised Western province for cashew nut growing would they have extension services in my area?
    Could it also be possible to grow olives in this same area but don’t know how I could get hold of seedlings …. South Africa perhaps, any contacts?

    1. Hi Patrick,

      Please check with Chunyu Nursery in Mfuwe. They can arrange delivery anywhere. Call them between 08:00 and 16:00
      Phone +260 216 245133
      Mobile +260 962 345590, +260 978 345590

      With regards to olives, very sandy soils have poor water retention capacity and require intensive management in terms of irrigation and nutrition. I’ll find out about Olive seeds and pop you an email.

    1. Hi Adeagbo, I don’t think you’ll be able to find a tutor. If its a challenge to read from all the literature available, you’ll have to find someone that grows cashew. This would mean travelling to areas where cashew is grown.All the best in your quest.

  2. hii , very interesting article on cashew nut project, to me its a longterm venture, which we will think it on our table, kindly info me on butternut farming

  3. please how do we make sales on the nuts?is there a permanent Price tag?like selling per killo or what?and please can you recommend some companies that one can sell for?

    1. Good day Yetunde, Most prices are not regulated. You need to do market research and competitor analysis. It will help you see how others are packaging and making profit.

  4. This article is extremely helpful. Thumps up to the author. I have come in western province, mongu and the first thing I want to do is buy the cashew nut seedlings. I think it will be a good investment as I look around for more to do.

  5. What is the minimum number of cashew nut seedlings do you deliver to those outside Mongu. I stay in Chongwe, Lusaka. I would like to join the group. .Thanks

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