VIJAYAWADA: Though the scope for cashew nut exports from Andhra Pradesh is high given the global demand, the ground-level situation is not conducive for the same. Leave alone exports, those running the cashew nut industry in the State are struggling to keep their factories running, due to decreasing raw material. They are forced to import cashew nuts from African countries, to keep their factories running. Nearly 70 per cent of the raw material is being imported, so where is the question of exporting? question the cashew nut traders of Palasa, the biggest cashew nut market in the State.
In the recently-held export carnival in Vijayawada, it was mentioned that cashew has a large export potential, but the State is way behind other states. While Kerala, which tops the list with Rs 183 crore worth exports per annum, AP’s exports are around Rs 3 crore only. There is huge demand for fresh and dried cashew nuts, cashew kernel and broken, roasted and salted cashew nuts and also cashew shell liquid.
When the same was mentioned to Malla Rameshwara Rao, president of Industrial Estate Palasa Cashew Merchants Association, he asked, “We do not have cashew nuts for our factories. From where we can export?” Cashew nut is grown in around 30,000 hectares at present and the acreage has come down in the last two decades for various reasons and the latest one being the losses suffered due to the Titli cyclone nearly four years ago. Around 12,000 farmers are dependent on this horticulture crop in the Uddanam region alone.
“Unlike Karnataka, which saw an increase in production of cashew nuts from two per cent to 35 per cent in the last two decades, our state has witnessed a downtrend. Several of our requests to save the industry have fallen on deaf ears,” he rued.
According to him, the cashew trees in Uddanam are several decades old and their yield has come down to one-fourth. “What we need is a new variety of cashew nut plants to replace the old ones. The government should provide them on subsidy,” he demanded.
Lack of skilled labour is another problem that is bothering the cashew nut industry. “This calls for mechanisation. Further, it should set up Cashew Development Board, a two-decade demand of cashew growers and traders in the region,” he said.