Improvements in growing organic cashews in Timor-Leste

  • Maria Odete Do Ceu Guterres

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    Because 75% of Timor–Leste’s population is involved in the agricultural sector, primarily at subsistence level, the government of Timor–Leste (TL) is looking for other potential industrial crops. Cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) was developed as an industrial crop in TL in the 1990’s. About 3,200 ha were planted in 6,500 small holdings. In 2008, only 800 ha remained. The main constraints to cashew cultivation are poor varieties, cashew farmers’ lack of knowledge about the principles of cashew cultivation, absence of orchard management and damage caused by insect pests, all of which have contributed to low cashew yields (270–300 kg/ha) compared to the world average (600 kg/ha).

    The opportunity to develop an organic cashew crop in TL is becoming increasingly viable because market demand for organic products is increasing. Thus, TL could supply this niche market, especially if the cashew products can be processed locally for export.

    I found high performance cashew clones could generate an income of 1802 USD/year/ha. The best method for propagating was using potting mixture with pH values between 5.5 to 7.0, in a mixed sand and topsoil medium. The best method for grafting mother tree scions to root stock plants was splice grafting.

    In terms of cashew cultivation method, an Integrated Pest Management method using biological control by black and weaver ants and improved farming strategies, increased cashew production up to five times, and the biological agents are effective in controlling cashew insect pests.

    The future development of an organic cashew industry in Timor–Leste would require the support of the government to develop a model of farmers’ organizations and cooperatives to access this agronomic information for organic cashew production. This model should aim to motivate and empower cashew farmers through advocacy via innovative agricultural extension and other services.
    Date of AwardDec 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorKeith Christian (Supervisor), Penny Wurm (Supervisor) & Renkang Peng (Supervisor)

    Cite this