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Thursday, Mar 07, 2002

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Cashew exports may cross 87,000 tonnes this year

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CASHEW exports are poised for a quantitative growth, albeit at a lower realisation of value, according to the Vice-Chairman of the Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI), Mr Walter D'Souza.

According to estimates, India, with a market share of 45 per cent in the global market, will register a seven per cent growth in exports during the current year. As against 81,657 tonnes valued at Rs. 1,878.50 crore for 2000-2001, exports during the current year are likely to cross the 87,000-tonne mark. There is, however, likely to be a 15 per cent decline in earnings that is expected to be in the range of Rs 1,600 crore. Also, cashew exports from Karnataka during the current financial year are expected to be in the range of Rs 110 crore with a market share of 7 per cent, marginally up from its all-time low of 5 per cent.

In the present global scenario, these figures, according to Mr D'Souza, indicate a steady quantitative growth for the cashew industry. The current financial year started on a low key with a `historic drop' in export prices. Given the various developments in the global scenario, exporters ended up piling up their stocks and inventory planning lost its direction leading to a mismatch in the raw material to finished products equation.

Exports, however, started growing quantitatively from the second half of November 2001 and continued till the first half of January, ostensibly as a result of CEPCI's marketing strategies. Notwithstanding this improvement, the drop in prices forced the industry to sustain losses. Despite these losses, the industry looks set to start the new procurement season from March-May in the domestic market with a price expectation level of about Rs 27-29 per kg of raw cashewnut, according to Mr D'Souza.

Furthermore, he said exports during the period April 2001 to January 2002 were at 77,101 tonnes valued at Rs 1,422.69 crore as against 67,036 tonnes valued at Rs 1,563.34 crore for the same period during 2000-2001. This period has shown a growth of 15 per in quantity and a decline of 20.8 per cent in unit value realisation.

The industry also, according to Mr. D'Souza, had to pay a higher interest this year as compared to the last year since banks permit only 180 days of export credit and charge between 40-50 per cent beyond that period, an issue that CEPCI has taken up with the RBI.

Imports of raw cashewnuts dropped by 21.6 per cent from 2,01,287 tonnes to 1,57,812 tonnes during April-December 2001. This year the industry is expected to import in excess of 2.5 lakh tonnes, marginally higher that last year's final figure of 2,49,087 tonnes.

According to Mr D'Souza, however, the domestic crop is expected to be much better than it was last year. But at the same time, the export price of cashew kernels hit an all-time low of $1.65 per pound during the second half of February. Most of the factories are still processing imported raw cashewnuts from East African and Far Eastern countries.

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