Improving the quality of cashew nuts and cashew apple products for better nutrition and income in Benin, West Africa.
Cashew trees (Anacardium occidentale) are an important source of income for small-scale farmers and national economies in West Africa. Cashew nuts are commercialized according to international standards based on size, grade, moisture content and quality. Beninese cashew nuts trade at $650-$850/tonne with more than 95% sold as raw product but prices have decreased in the last 3 years mostly due to non-respect of moisture content and quality regulation. Post harvest spoilage of cashew nuts and cashew food products by moulds has been previously reported (Irtwange and Oshodi, 2009), but few report on aflatoxin and how small-scale producers can prevent their development.
Cashew apples are valuable sources of protein, fat, vit-C and micronutrients, but the fruit is not exploited in Benin with no effort to improve local processing.
This study aims to (i)- collect and analyse local knowledge related to cashew nut quality, (ii)- identify the diversity of Aspergillus section Flavi associated to cashew kernels and the level of aflatoxin produced, (iii)- improve local processing technologies of cashew apple with respect to quality (QACCP) including improvement of nutritional quality.
Approaches, research methods
- Assess chain actors’ perception of quality attributes related to raw cashew nuts;
- Identify diversity of Aspergillus section Flavi and associated aflatoxins of raw cashew nuts at farmers’ and collectors’ level;
- Assess the effect of sorting and grading on Aspergillus section Flavi level, aflatoxin contamination and the related nutritional composition of raw nuts;
- Identify the most important cashew foods in Benin, their processing methods, their nutritional composition, the associated quality criteria using QACCP approach;
- Assess quality and nutritional parameters for 2 cashew-based food products: cashew apple juice (liquid) and cashew jam (jelly);
- Identify suitable optimisation processes for local processing technologies to retain vit C and improve quality.