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  • Imports, uncertainty over Onam kit cast a shadow over cashew sector 08/05/2023

    Aug 5th, 2023

    A steady inflow of imports and the uncertainty over government’s Onam kit distribution plans are keeping the cashew sector on tenterhooks. Last year, both government-run factories and private processors had received fairly large orders after cashew was incorporated in the kit as part of the efforts to revive the sector and ensure the welfare of workers. While factories functioning under the Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation (KSCDC) and the Kerala State Cashew Workers Apex Industrial Cooperative Society (Capex) supplied around 90 lakh sachets, the private sector too benefited from the decision. Since the State government is unlikely to provide free festival kits to all card holders this Onam, the industry is bracing for a sharp dip in business. According to processors, low-priced products from other States have already started to flood the domestic market. “In Kerala, consumption is relatively high in districts such as Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Malappuram, and Kannur. But at present, huge quantities of cashew splits are available in these markets and traders are sourcing the product from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. As we follow the traditional style of processing in Kerala, we cannot sell the product at the rates they are offering. Compared to previous years, the inflow is heavier and domestic processors are struggling,” says Muhammad Shan, processor. The current difference in price is ₹80 to ₹100 and most of the buyers opt for cheaper nuts from mechanised processing units outside Kerala. “We had pinned our hopes on the Onam order, but this year the government is not offering free kits to all card holders. Moreover, cashew is not even included in the kits for yellow card holders,” he adds. While it was earlier announced that cashew and cardamom will be included in the kit every year, the government is yet to initiate any steps for procurement. With Onam falling on August last week, the domestic market was expected to see a boom with units working extra shifts. “We were hopeful of getting more working days. But our manager says the demand is low and we cannot process huge quantities without order,” says Laila, a cashew worker. Losing the Onam business will be a major blow for the KSCDC and Capex factories as well after registering record sales last season. “The government is yet to take a final decision in this and we have started to intervene. Currently, discussions are on and we have already appealed to the Chief Minister, Finance Minister and Industries Minister,” says KSCDC Chairman S. Jayamohan.