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KALRO develops new cashew nuts yielding 4× existing varieties

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By George Munene

The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has developed 14 new superior cashew varieties with a potential yearly yield of up to 30-45 kgs per tree per year, up to seven times more than existing strains.

This, the research institute stated, was in an effort to enhance the productivity of cashew farmers and harness the crop’s growing economic potential. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), between 2000 and 2018, world trade in raw cashew nuts more than doubled to 2.1 billion kilograms with African producers – led by Côte d’Ivoire – accounting for two-thirds of this growth.

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Despite this immense potential cashew productivity in Kenya remains low with farmers relying on aged trees and unimproved varieties yielding an average of 10 kilograms per tree per year against a yield potential as high as 70 kilograms per tree per year.  

Through extensive research at the Industrial Crops Research Institute Mtwapa, KALRO scientists developed 14 superior cashew varieties; A41, A47, A81, A82, A90, A100, A75/83, T83, JK90, JK226, JK292, JK411, JK460, and JK288.  These varieties have a potential yield of over 1400 to 1680 kg per acre in comparison with yields of 500 kg per acre recorded for existing varieties released two decades ago.

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KALRO is currently building the capacity of cashew nut value chain stakeholders in Lamu County through a training seminar at the Kenya School of Government Matuga. This targets extension officers, service providers, and lead farmers from Lamu, who are being trained on among other issues. The expected results of the eight-day course are increased incomes, improved food, and nutritional security especially of women, children, youth, and vulnerable groups. This is hoped will help leverage cashew nut production in reducing poverty among Lamu farmers.

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