President of the Udupi Zilla Panchayat Katapady Shankar Poojary said on Saturday that it was essential to popularise cultivation of cashew in coastal districts as it had a lot of potential.

He was speaking after inaugurating “Cashew Mela” organised by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, Directorate of Cashew and Coco Development, Cochin, Zonal Agricultural Research Station (ZARS), Farm Science Centre, and Sri Kshetra Dharmathala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP) here.

Mr. Poojary said that cashew cultivation had immense potential in coastal districts. Cashew cultivation became popular in these districts in the mid 1980s. Later, the interest in its cultivation declined. Melas would go a long way in rekindling interest among farmers in cashew cultivation. The zilla panchayat would organise a “Krishi Utsav” in the district on May 20 and 21, he added.

Director of the Directorate of Cashew and Coco Development Venkatesh N. Hubbali said that there was a demand for 13 lakh tonnes of raw cashew in the country. But in 2010-11, the country produced 6.73 lakh tonnes of raw cashew, while 7 lakh tonnes of raw cashew were imported, mostly from western African countries. The cost of this import was Rs. 3,000 crore. India exported 1.07 lakh tonnes of cashew kernels and earned Rs. 3,000 crore.

But the problem was that these western African countries were now starting their own cashew processing industries.

Hence, cashew produced would be utilised there. It was essential to boost domestic production of cashew, Mr. Hubbali said.

Managing trustee of Bharatiya Vikas Trust K.M. Udupa said that farmers were ready to grow any crop provided they were assured of a fixed price for it. Lack of assured price discouraged farmers. No amount of workshops would help until this factor was addressed, he said.

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