Very little effort has been made to collect historical evidence of cashew cultivation. The French naturalist, Thevet, gave the first illustrative description of cashew, in 1558 AD. The Portuguese introduced the cashew tree, which was originally native to Brazil, to Mozambique and then India in the 16th century, as a means of controlling coastal erosion. It was not until the 19th century that plantations were developed, and the tree then spread to a number of other countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The cashew is now distributed throughout the tropics and in parts of the warm subtropics. Cashew processing, using manual techniques, began in India in the first half of the 20th century, when cashews were exported to the wealthy western markets — particularly the United States. In the 1960s, some of the producing countries in East Africa began to process nuts domestically rather than sending them to India for processing. This allowed them to benefit from the sale of both processed nuts and the extracted cashew nut shell liquid.
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