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  • Shutdown by cashew traders, processing units makes lives miserable for farmers, workers 07/11/2023

    Jul 11th, 2023

    The ongoing strike at the Palasa cashew market in Srikakulam district, counted among the biggest in the region, has severely affected the lives of thousands of farmers and day workers. While the farmers are unable to sell their produce even at reduced prices, let alone getting remunerative prices, the workers are struggling to make their ends meet as the processing units remained shut and business operations came to a halt. Various reasons such as plummeting of rates, competition from imported cashew and an unprecedented bumper yield are being cited for the unusual strike by the owners of cashew processing units and traders in the market. According to the Palasa Cashew Manufacturing Association, the cashew imported from Vietnam, Cambodia and other countries is being sold at a much less price than the locally sourced produce affecting their business. Further, broken cashew nuts are being imported under the guise of husk to avoid taxes. The bumper crop across the country also led to a drop in the price. For instance, a fine variety of cashew that fetched ₹800 per kg earlier, is now available at ₹600 while the prices of other varieties declined to ₹450 from ₹600 in the Palasa market. The traders who did not expect the huge fall in the prices are reportedly incurring losses on existing stocks. PCMA president Malla Suresh and former president Malla Srinivasa Rao said that the strike which started on July 5 would continue till July 31. “Each and every trader incurred huge losses on the existing stocks. At this juncture, we cannot purchase fresh cashew stocks and run the manufacturing units as it will lead to a further fall in price,” Mr. Srinivasa Rao told The Hindu. ‘Ploy to drive down price’ Meanwhile, CPI (M) district unit president D.V. Govinda Rao alleged that the traders had announced the strike to force farmers to sell their cashew nuts at throwaway prices. He sought government’s intervention to ensure at least ₹16,000 MSP (minimum support price) per quintal of cashew nuts to protect the interests of the farmers. “The farmers are being forced to sell their produce at ₹8,000-9,000 per quintal, which hardly meets the investment cost,” he added. He expressed concern over the denial of wages for nearly 20,000 workers of around 300 manufacturing units located in Palasa, Tekkali, Mandasa and other parts of the district. Rythu Sangham State president K. Mohana Rao and Cashew Farmers’ Association district convener T. Ajay Kumar urged the government to hold a meeting immediately to listen to the grievances of all the stakeholders. The cashew produce could not be preserved for a long period, and farmers’ losses would mount further if their stocks remained unsold, Mr. Ajay Kumar said.