The National- Friday, January 21, 2011
By BOSORINA ROBBY
AROMA Coast in Abau district, Central, has begun planting cashew trees as part of an outgrowers programme to develop the nut as a commercial commodity.
In engaging the technical services of Cashew International Ltd PNG (CIL), Member for Abau Sir Puka Temu chipped in K100,000 for the programme which would assist the villagers plant, harvest and sell the nuts to CIL at farm gate value based on world market prices.
CIL donated 2,000 trees to the villagers, and it was expected that at least half a million trees (average of 220 trees per hectare) will be planted by this year.
CIL general manager Ron Bell said yesterday the programme is based on the principle of non-leasing of land, but letting the landowners have ownership of the land and the trees.
Bell explained the cashew industry offers people the chance to stay and work on their land, and keep the money they earn within their district.
“Businesses, infrastructures and other goods and services will come to them because these things go where the money goes,” he said.
He said cashew nuts, when dried in the sun, could last for six months, giving the planter the choice of when to have money when they needed it.
“We want to put people back into agriculture and back into the villages, that is why cashews are the way to go,” he said.
Cashews grow best along the coastal areas, and are low maintenance, requiring only the occasional prune.
The tree starts bearing fruit after two years, roughly producing 3kg per tree, and reaching its peak after six years, with an average of 15kg of cashew nuts per tree.
Bell said the positive thing about commercial cashew is that when properly taken care of, the trees will keep producing for the next 80-100 years.
He said PNG cashew has the potential to be a top global supplier but only if there was adequate support from the provincial and national government.
The cashew nut is a delicacy eaten on its own (salted or roasted) or in salads and other dishes whose high demand outstrips the supplies.
It is currently being cultivated as a commercial crop on the pilot plantation at Launakalana, Rigo district.