The Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI), a body under the ministry of commerce, has sought a manifold jump in the allocation of funds for mechanisation and automation of processing units in the 12th Plan (2012-17).
It has sought close to Rs 100 crore, a jump of 11 times over the Rs 9 crore released for automation of the sector in the 11th Plan (2007-12).
“We have submitted a proposal for process mechanisation and automation of cashew processing units, quality upgradation, food safety certifications and generic promotion of Indian cashews overseas during the 12th Plan,” said Hari Krishnan R Nair, chairman. These were essential to face competition abroad, he said in an address to the 57th annual general meeting of CEPCI.
The Council had also requested the government to include cashew among the eligible items in the new Status Holders Incentive Scrip scheme. Status holders in labour intensive sectors are eligible to use this scrip to import capital goods for upgradation of technology. Cashew is one of the most labour-intensive export sectors in the country, he said and other producing countries such as Vietnam and Brazil had modernised their sectors with significant government support.
He said the foreign exchange earned in 2011-12 through export of cashew kernels, cashew nut shell liquid and allied products was $928 million (Rs 4,450 crore). The country exported 131,760 tonnes of cashew kernels valued at Rs 4,391 crore and 13,575 tonnes of cashew nut shell liquid, valued at Rs 59.5 crore, both records in quantity and value terms.
There was a 24.6 per cent increase in the quantity of kernels exported during 2011-12 compared to that of 2010-11. Export to the American zone was 37 per cent, to the European Zone 27 per cent, West Asia and Africa 23 per cent, the South East and Far East Asia zone 12 per cent and the Oceania Zone one per cent of the total. The USA, UAE, Netherlands and Japan were among major buyers of our cashew kernels.
On production of raw cashew nuts, Nair said Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra had shown significant increase in productivity. However, it was declining or stagnating in Kerala, Odisha and Goa. He called on the horticultural departments of these states to make use of the resources available under the National Horticulture Mission and give a focus to cashew cultivation, on the lines of the success achieved in Maharashtra.
The Directorate of Cashew Nut and Coca Development estimated in 2011-12, Maharashtra led with production of 223,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts, followed by Andhra with 110,000 tonnes, Odisha with 97,000 tonnes, Kerala with 73,000 tonnes and Tamil Nadu with 68,000 tonnes. Output in the country during the period was 692,000 tonnes against 653,000 tonnes in 2010-11, an increase of six per cent.