Agri Business

How India can become Aatmanirbhar in cashew sector

AJ Vinayak Mangaluru | Updated on August 31, 2020 Published on August 31, 2020

Country has to increase local cultivation to take on Vietnam, say experts

At a time when the Prime Minister wants India to become Aatmanirbhar in the agriculture sector, cashew is still dependent on overseas markets to meet its raw material requirements.

Though India topped in global cashew consumption at 32 per cent in 2019, raw cashew nut production stood at 20 per cent of the global production. India’s share in global cashew processing stood at 39 per cent. However, Vietnam led the cashew processing sector at 52 per cent in 2019.

 

 

 

Cultivation concerns

Speaking to BusinessLine, K Prakash Rao, partner at the Mangaluru-based Kalbavi Cashews, said India needs to take its crop from the existing 7 lakh tonnes per annum to at least 12 lakh tonnes per annum in the next five years to become Aatmanirbhar in crop production.

The Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development must draw a massive roadmap for this and identify States that have the land for increasing the area under cashew cultivation, he added.

Stressing the need to focus on changing the planting material, he said all senile plantations must be replaced with the latest hybrid variety that can yield over 15 kg per tree, and there is also a need to focus on high density plantations.

Bola Rahul Kamath, proprietor of the Karkala-based Bola Surendra Kamath & Sons, told BusinessLine that Indian farmers’ cost of production and attitudes are totally different when it comes to competing with Africa. Farmers need to give focussed attention to the crop, he said.

Stating that there is scope to increase the area under cashew cultivation in India, Kamath said Vietnam is a small country and has a limited space to increase the crop. On the other hand, India has a great potential in cashew cultivation as it has a huge cultivable area. There is a need to take the crop to the hinterland for this purpose, he said.

K Deviprasad, General Secretary of the Karnataka-based All India Cashew Growers’ Association, told BusinessLine that there is a need to increase the base price of raw cashew nuts to at least ₹120 a kg, as a price below that is not remunerative to a grower. Now cashew is one of the crops in the multi-crop farming concept. The crop will become a major crop and the area under cashew cultivation will automatically go up, once the base price is fixed to a minimum of ₹120 a kg for raw cashewnuts, he said.

Prakash Rao, who is also the Chairman of the Mangaluru chapter of CII, said that India needs to process at least 2 million tonnes of cashew a year if it wants to become a global leader in this commodity. India processed around 1.4 million tonnes of cashew in 2019, whereas Vietnam processed around 1.9 million tonnes. India must first satisfy the domestic demand and then exports the surplus, he said.

 

 

 

Advantage India

With regard to advantages for India vis-à-vis Vietnam in the cashew sector, Kamath said the country has a captive domestic market. But China is the captive and growing market for Vietnam.

A raw cashewnut yields four products – cashewnut shell liquid (CNSL), broken cashews, lower grade cashews, and main exportable cashews. He said India has the best realisation for all four.

In many African countries, shells are just wasted. Broken cashews have no demand in most of the countries. It is only India where it is sold. The lower cashew grades again have no demand in most of the countries. That is why India has tremendous strength in processing, he said.

Indian advantages are something that Vietnamese cannot catch up with, and that is why the overall advantage is in favour of India, Kamath said.

Urging the government to share these sentiments of the stakeholders in the cashew sector and to create policies conducive for the growth of this industry in this country, Rao said this sector generates employment, exports and supports farm produce.

“Once we get through the bottlenecks, we will be a sunrise industry of this country and will significantly contribute to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat movement,” Rao added.

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Published on August 31, 2020
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