After India missed an opportunity that Vietnam took in 2002 by modernising its cashew processing units to the international level, the government’s agri-export promotion body APEDA was tasked two months back to bring back the top position for the country in global trade and it has chalked out an action plan to expand the growing areas as well as connect them with the global market.

“Only two months back the Kerala High Court vacated the stay and we have now started working on cashew,” Abhishek Dev, Chairman of APEDA told businessline. He said there was a stay on the 2020 order of the government transferring the export promotion activities of cashew to APEDA from the Kerala-based Cashew Export Promotion Council (CEPC).

Dev said that APEDA will be facilitating the export of over 30 tonnes of cashew nuts to Qatar and Malaysia from Tamil Nadu and from Kerala to the US on November 23, which is also World Cashew Day. Next month, 2 tonnes from Odisha will be shipped to Bangladesh by road, he added.

The country is also looking at new geographies such as Japan, the European Union, South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia to develop new export markets.

He also said that India has a promising future once modernisation of processing units starts as Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) have also come up in the last few years who will be helpful to build up scale.

Sources said that since CEPC is also a body of exporters it was not moving in the way, that it should, to protect the business interests of the existing exporters. States like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Gujarat have big potential in cashew export, officials of APEDA said adding more companies can be brought in to value addition segment of cashewnuts.

In 2002, Vietnam started the implementation of mechanisation in cashew processing units with the help from the US government and as a result it was able to reduce production cost as well as produced high quality nuts. “Even if Indian processed kernels are more superior in quality and taste, the Vietnamese kernels are preferred because those are cheaper,” an official of APEDA said adding India has to be made export competitive.

Exports of cashew kernels (whole) from India dropped to $332.87 million (or Rs 2,677.61 crore) in 2022-23 from $ 873.16 million (Rs 5,627.81 crore) in 2017-18, officials data show. UAE was top destination for India’s cashew kernels (whole) at nearly $ 126 million followed by the Netherlands at $ 36.40 million in 2022-23. Japan also had imported worth $ 35.23 million of cashew kernels from India last year.

Vietnam’s cashew exports were reportedly $ 2.95 billion during January-October of 2023, up by 15.9 per cent from year-ago. The government has set a target of $ 3.1 billion for calendar year 2023, against actual export of $ 3.07 billion.