Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan has said a strong Central government intervention was required to strengthen the cashew sector which annually earns foreign exchange worth more than Rs. 2500

crore. He was inaugurating the head office building and the automatic flexi packaging unit of the Kerala Cashew Workers Apex Industrial Cooperative Society (Capex) here on Friday.

He said the Centre has still not met the long standing demand from the State for the constitution of a Cashew Board based at Kollam. He expressed the hope that at least the Centre would be serious about it.

The Chief Minister stressed on the need for promoting cashew farms for the purpose of increasing raw cashew nut production in the State. He said in order to provide work for over three lakh cashew workers; the majority of them women, the State was forced to import huge quantities of raw nuts. Many of the State’s cashew farms of the past have now become real estate complexes.

But the time has come to protect the existing cashew farms and to develop more cashew farms. Without much expense, cashew farms yield high returns. The State government has initiated various measures for the promotion of such farms. Constituting the Cashew Cultivation Agency and allocating 230 hectares of land for starting cashew farms was a major step in this connection.

For promoting the cashew industry, a Cashew Special Office was opened at Kollam. The highest financial support from the State government during the past three years went to the cashew sector. The government had also revised the minimum wages and hiked the pension for cashew workers.

He said the Capex had registered outstanding growth during the period. The fact that it could bring down losses standing at Rs. 6.25 crore to 3 crore is an indication that Capex has started making profits. The fact that the twenty five year old Capex had now managed to have its head office in its own building is proof that the cashew industry in general, and Capex, in particular, were growing.

In his presidential address at the function, the Minister for Labour and Cashew Industry, P.K. Gurudasan said before the end of the term of the present government, the minimum wages of the cashew workers would be revised once more. He called upon the cashew workers to increase production and ensure quality. Minister for Water Resources, N.K. Premachandran, Mayor N. Padmalochanan, the Kollam MP, N. Peethambara Kurup, the Capex Chairman, B. Thulasidhara Kurup and Managing Director R. Rajesh spoke.