Karnataka cashew corporation blames lack of funds for not developing its land to optimise yield
The land area under possession is bigger than six recognised countries, and yet the Karnataka Cashew Development Corporation (KCDC) finds itself struggling for relevance. Lack of funds and resources, combined with neglect from the State government see the Corporation stuck in a cycle of low yields.
KCDC oversees a total of 25,658.11 hectares (or, 256.58 square km) in four districts.
With 9,133 hectares, the largest tracts of land are in Dakshina Kannada, followed by a little more than 7,000 hectares each in Udupi and Uttara Kannada and 2,063 hectares in Shimoga district.
However, officials admit that the current revenues – of a little more than Rs. 2,000 per hectare – are not enough, when the average cost to raise plantation was Rs. 30,000 per hectare. As a comparison, private planter Narahari Prabhu said even with 200 trees per hectare will see income of Rs. 40,000 per hectare at the present rate of Rs. 60 per kg.
The corporation has not managed to develop or maintain all the pieces of land under it to optimise yield. For example, in the past two decades, the company has planted high-yield variety of cashew crops in just a little over 10,000 hectares, or less than half of the total land they possess.
“We can double the yield, but we don’t have the funds to do it,” Nagaraja, Managing Director, KCDC. It is also hit by labour issues; 50 per cent staff shortage.
The corporation, which has never received any State grants since inception, has sent a proposal for capital infusion of Rs. 25 crore over five years.
The proposal would see new development of more than 200 ha per year, as well as rejuvenation of 400 ha annually, said officials.
The other option is the implementation of the long-delayed 2004 Government Order directing the merging of the corporation with the Rubber division of the Karnataka Forest Development Corporation to form the Karnataka Cashew and Rubber Development Corporation. “We have the land but no money while the rubber corporation have money but no land,” Mr. Nagaraja said.
Explaining the link between the health of the corporation and the district economy, he added: “There is huge potential in cashew. Cashew processing is labour intensive and can provide employment to locals.”