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AGRICULTURE REPORT - May 6, 2003: Tree Nuts - 2003-05-05

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Nuts that grow on trees are an important part of the diet in many cultures. They also provide an important export product for many nations.

The United States is the world’s largest exporter of tree nuts. About forty-three percent of tree nuts grown in America are exported. The United States grows more than ten percent of the world’s tree nut supply.

The world’s most popular tree nut is the almond. The United States is expected to grow over five-hundred-thousand metric tons of almonds this year. The second largest grower, Spain, is expected to produce about one-fifth of that amount.

Next in popularity is the walnut. The two largest producers of this crop are the United States and China. China does not export much of its production. This year the United States will export about one-third of the walnuts it grows.

Another major tree nut in the export market is the filbert, or hazelnut. Turkey is by far the biggest producer of this nut, followed by Italy and Spain. Other economically important tree nuts include brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, pistachios and kola nuts. Many of these nuts need warm, wet climates to grow. Brazil nuts and cashews, for example, are major exports for countries with tropical climates.

Not surprisingly, Brazil is the largest producer of Brazil nuts. India is by far the largest producer of cashews. Vietnam and Brazil are also large exporters.

Tree nuts are excellent products for export. They are easily stored. They can also be processed in the country that grows them.

Some tree nuts, though, require extra processing. Cashews are a good example. Cashews must be removed from their shell and cooked. Without processing, cashews are poisonous. They can cause severe reactions if eaten or even touched.

Exporting processed cashews creates jobs where the nuts are grown. It also adds to the export value of the product. For example, the World Bank helped farmers in Brazil's Rio Grande do Norte area develop a processing center for cashews. This project began in the late nineteen-eighties. Today, the center employs twenty-five local people. It permits farmers to grow and market good quality cashews.

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Mario Ritter.