Energy utilisation in rural industries in Karnataka
Ramachandra T.V.
Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore - 560 012.


Cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.), is a small tree, crooked; originally introduced from South America. Every part of the cashew is useful to man. The kernels are of high nutritive value. It is rich in carbohydrate (22%), unsaturated fats (47%), minerals such as Calcium (0.55), Phosphorous (0.45%), Iron (5.0 mg/100gm), Vitamins (Vitamin S, 630 mg/100gm) and Ribo­flavin (190 mg/100gm). A kernel supplies about 6000 calories of energy per kg as against 3600 by cereals, 1800 by meat and 650 by fresh fruit. The cashew apple juice is rich in vitamin C (261.5 mg/ 100gm) content and contains 10.15 to 12.5 per cent sugar and about 0.35% acid (as Malic). The mesocarp of the shell contains black, caustic, oil juice, which is rubefacient and vesicant. It contains phenolic compound cardol, anacardic acid and an ether soluble substance. It is a valuable raw material for a number of polymer based industries e.g. for paints, varnishes, resins, industrial and decorative laminates, brake linings and rubber compounding resins. Cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL) is used extensively in boat manufacturing industries and carved wood works as it effectively prevents white ants. The delicious and nutritious kernel is commonly eaten roasted, ­ a process which improves the flavour. Coating on the kernel yields tannins (24-26%) which is used in the leather industries. The cashew apple and its juice has a medicinal value for scurvy, cough and colds and is an excellent purgative. The juice is used as an antiscorbutic and diuretic; given in kidney troubles and cholera. The bud and young leaf is used as a vegetable and as green manure; the leaf contain tannins (23%) used in skin diseases; the alcoholic extract shows hypoglycemic and anticancer activity [8].

In addition, cashew trees are used for fire­wood or charcoal. The pulp from the wood is used to fabricate corrugated and hardbound boxes. The bark of the tree yields- tannins (9%), and possesses an anti-hypertensive and hypo­glycaemic properties; the milky sap, on exposure becomes black, useful in indelible ink. Gum from the bark, has insecticidal properties useful in bookbinding and pharmaceutical industry.

Cashew is familiarly known as "money spinner" among plantation crops due to the various uses of the tree ranging from land reclamation to medicinal purposes, and finds a unique place in our ecosystem. In Karnataka 4.04 lakh hectares of land are barren, sandy, slightly alkaline and poor in nutrients. Of this, 14,000 hectares is in the Uttara Kannada District. This could be used for cashew plantation and energy plantations. Casuarina equisetifolia, Acacia auriculiformis, Anacardium occidentale are best suited for this soil. Cashew because of versatility, and its ability to survive on saline land, laterite and red soils, is a very important tree in Agro and social forestry because of its distinctive role in land reclamation. It is usually closely planted for effective wide breaks for orchards and as soil binders.

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