Monday, October 10, 2011

Bumper Crop This Year for Ceará's Cashew Fruits

The cashew fruit (caju in Portuguese) is the most important fruit crop in Flavors of Brazil's home state, Ceará. The weirdly shaped apple-with-a-nut-on-the-end yields not only the cashew nut, which is tremendously valuable for the export market, but also a fruitlike part, botanically known as a peduncle, which enjoys a gigantic domestic market as a source of juice and sweets.

The caju harvest of the past two years in Ceará was disappointingly small, mainly due to the lack of rainfall in the state during the rainy season from January to early May. But 2011 is a year of  La Niña, a worldwide weather phenomenon generated by cooler than average water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. In years influenced by  La Niña Ceará receives higher than normal rainfall - something that is good for the cashew crop. This year's rainy season extended well into the normally dry months of June and July and consequently the caju harvest benefitted tremendously.

The harvest is just starting now, but the state agricultural bureau is predicting a 2011 cashew harvest of 160 thousand tons. That's four times the size of last year's harvest which was damaged by insufficient rainfall. Because of the abundant rainfall, the bureau is also predicting that the quality of the crop will increase this year with most fruits having high sugar levels and low acidity.

The cashew-nut processing industry will also enjoy an upswing thanks to the excellent harvest. The bureau expects that the tonnage of processed cashew nuts in 2011 will be 187% higher than last year.

As the cashew crop is the largest source of income for the residents of 45 counties in the state, the economic benefit for the cashew-cultivation region is considerable. Although wholesale prices have not yet been established, we can hope that the consumer will also see some benefit of this cornucopia of cashews - higher quality and lower prices.

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