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Cashew: An emerging tree commodity in African drylands for livelihoods improvement and ecosystem restoration

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Cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) is a tree species belonging to Anacardiaceae family that grows well in dryland ecosystems (Orwa et al 2009; Ohler 1979), as long as the minimum moisture supply is available. It is an evergreen tropical species with an average height of 12-14m and is considered to be native to tropical America (Johnson 1973; Nair 2010; Bladzell 2000; Catarino et al 2015). It grows well in high-temperature zones with rainfall ranging from 500-3500 mm, below 1000 m above sea level. The first record of cashew growing in Africa dates back to at least the 18th century (Catarino et al 2015). Asogwa et al (2008), however, claim that cashew was grown in Nigeria as early as the 15th century for soil erosion control.

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