Cashew growers has demanded support price for the crop, and president of Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha’s Moodbidri unit Dhanakeerti Balipa expressed concern over increasing input costs at the annual Cashew Mela in Mangalore on Wednesday.
Mr. Balipa said the price of raw cashew was far below the investment. “What is the point in pushing us to grow cashew in the absence of a scientifically fixed support price. We do not want any subsidy from the government (for growing cashew). We desperately need support price,” he said.
Subsidy given by the State government for extending cashew plantation area did not help farmers unless the basic issue of support price was resolved. Cashew farmers are also turning towards rubber plantations as growing cashew is becoming economically unviable.
“You can see the change in places such as Moodbidri. Rubber plantations have replaced cashew in many areas,” he said. There was absence of facilities for processing units and cold storages necessary for small-time cashew growers in the district, he said.
S.D. Sampat Samrajya, a member of the Board of Management from Horticultural Sciences University Bagalkot, said the production of cashew had not increased for more than five years. He said the yield per hectare in the State was 461 kg. Maharashtra led the pack with yield of 1086 kg per hectare, followed by Kerala at 957 kg per hectare, and West Bengal at 909 kg a hectare.
Mr. Samrajya said the amount of raw cashew produced was less compared to requirement of cashew kernel for the 3,600 cashew processing units in the country. The production has been around 6.5 lakh tonnes as against the demand of 15 lakh tonnes. “We are forced to import raw cashew from countries such as Ivory Coast and Tasmania. We are losing our foreign exchange,” he said.
The annual Cashew Mela was organised at the Horticultural Research Station in Ullal. There were stalls displaying apples from cashew varieties namely Ullal-1, Ullal-2, Ullal-3 and Ullal-4 and products including Kokum jam, Kokam chutney and bitter gourd pickles. It also had nine varieties of juices including a few pertaining to cashew.
A new cashew variety
The Horticultural Research Station in Ullal is working towards introducing a new variety of cashew crop in Dakshina Kannada.
Lakshman, Head of the Research Station in Ullal, said ‘Priyanka’, a new early-harvesting cashew variety which was already being grown in several parts of Kerala would be released here soon.
Cashew kernel as well as the seed was bigger in this variety. Each plant would give cashew not less than 19 kg. The growth of this variety was studied in the Station for 10 years and it had been found to be good for the region, he said.