Lockdown: Cashew industry on the verge of collapse, cries for help from govt

The cashew industry has sought the immediate intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking help to export nuts to the US, Japan and the Middle East.

The Cashew Industry Protection Council (CIPC) in their letter to the Prime Minister has pointed out that of the 10,000 MT of cashew that Japan imports, Kerala's share is around 8000 MT.

"We seek your immediate intervention to lift the export curbs. If we are not able to do it, then we will be losing these markets to other countries like China, Vietnam. Another issue on which we want your intervention is - Kerala is always dependent on raw cashew nuts from African countries like Ivory Coast and Ghana. Following the lockdown, the import of these nuts is not happening and if it does not happen, the industry will be wiped out, as investments have been made for procurement," said the CIPC.

They also pointed out that in Kerala for the past four years, the industry has been having a hand to mouth existence and most of the companies here are going through tough times and are getting recovery notices from the banks.

"We seek a moratorium of one year for all the cashew companies which are in the red, if not, the industry will perish forever in Kerala," pointed out the CIPC.

Kerala stands fifth in cashew production contributing 11.17 per cent of the total production of cashew in the country.

But figures tell the real tale as the cashew business in Kerala has reached an all time low when it saw the total cashew production fall from 35820 MT in 2009-10 to 15640 MT in 2018-19 and the area under cultivation dwindled from 48970 hectares to 38780 hectares during the same period, leaving Kerala cashew workers dependent on kernels from abroad.

On account of the coronavirus pandemic, the Kerala government has announced a temporary relief of Rs 1000 for each of the thousands of cashew workers besides free ration.

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