P. Bharathan Pillai, Chairman of the Cashew Export Promotion Council (CEPC) of India stressed on the need for making the country self sufficient in raw cashew nut requirement. He was addressing the 54th annual general meeting of the CEPC at Kochi on Thursday.

Stating that the Kerala government had set up a special agency for promoting cashew cultivation, Mr. Pillai called upon the cashew exporters in the State to actively support this initiative of the Kerala government which aims at achieving a quantum jump in the availability of raw cashew nuts in the State.

The Chairman said that as per estimates from the Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development, the raw cashew nut production in India during 2008-2009 was 6,95,000 tonnes as against 6, 65, 000 tonnes during the previous year. The raw nut requirement for the industry is about12 lakh tonnes and the domestic production meeting only half of that requirement. The balance requirement is met through imports mainly from African countries and Indonesia.

Through the export of cashew kernels, cashew nut shell oil and allied products during 2008-2009, the country earned foreign exchange equivalent to Rs. 3,014 crore ($ 656 million). 1,09,523 tonnes of cashew kernels valued at Rs. 2,988.40 crore and 9,099 tonnes of shell oil valued at Rs. 26.06 crore were exported during the period. Mr. Pillai said the global economic recession had adversely affected cashew kernel exports. During the 2008-2009 period, there was a 4 per cent decrease in kernel exports compared to the previous year.

The United States, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and Japan continued to be the major buyers in Indian cashew kernels during the period. He said 34.5 per cent was to the American zone, 30 per cent to the European zone, 24.5 per cent to West Asia and Africa, 8 per cent to the Far East and 2 per cent to the oceanic zone.

Mr. Pillai also requested the Union Government to allocate sufficient funds for promoting schemes to increase raw nut production in the country. He also wanted productivity in India on par with Vietnam.

While the productivity in India is 815 kilo grams per hectare, in Vietnam it is 2000 kg per hectare.

The Chairman thanked the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry for the timely support to the cashew industry through the Vishesh Krishi Aur Gram Upaj Yojana. He said this support helped the industry survive in spite of the global recession.

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