/ 9 November 2023

CASHEW farmers in the Philippines must learn how to utilize the fruit’s flesh to boost their income, a study of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Research and Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture said.

The results of the study were shared by Department of Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum in his message during the Advancing Cashew Industry through Green Technology conference held in Dusit Thani Manila on November 3.

Convened by the DOST-Industrial Technology Development Institute, the conference is a culminating activity of the DOST-Ministry of Science and Technology China project titled “Green Oil and Phytochemicals from Cashew.” The project uses green technologies to extract oil from cashews and apply it to various food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic products.

“Philippine cashew farmers are burdened with a low return on capital for their work. The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture and the Philippine Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Agricultural Research or the DA-BAR partly attribute this to the underutilization of the components of the cashew fruit,” Solidum said.

“The study further suggests that this may be addressed by exploration of the fruit’s potential in processing or manufacturing,” Solidum added.

The research revealed that cashew farming in the Philippines, especially in the leading cashew-producing province of Palawan, traditionally focus on the nuts.

It also found that Palawan’s cashew farmers have struggled with low returns on their investments due to the underutilization of the cashew apple’s flesh, which constitutes 90 percent of the fruit. It cited that the primary reason for this underutilization is a lack of awareness about the cashew fruit’s processing potential.

To address this, SEARCA recommends technology-based innovation to maximize the utility of the fruit using various technologies. In its study titled “Technology and Investment Profile of Cashew Products,” it suggested other products that could be derived from Cashew apples such as wine, prunes, jelly, jam.

“To address this challenge and boost cashew farmers’ income, the Western Philippines University initiated product development for cashew apples,” Dr. Glenn Gregorio, center director of SEARCA, said.

“Cashew apple, once undervalued, has gained economic value surpassing four times that of cashew nuts,” Gregorio noted.

The DA-BAR and the DA-Palawan Research and Experiment Station supported further improvements in cashew nut and apple products.