R. Chandrasekharan, the newly appointed chairman of the public sector Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation (KSCDC) Ltd., has said that the corporation will initiate a community development programme for cashew workers so as to bring them into the mainstream.

He was addressing a meet-the-press organised by the Kollam Press Club here on Monday.

Mr. Chandrasekharan said the programme was being initiated because cashew workers were still backward, and Kollam district could claim overall progress only if there was improvement in the living standards of the cashew workers.

A scheme would be worked out to enable the super-specialty hospital of the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) in the city and the upcoming medical college hospital of the ESIC at Paripally to focus on cashew workers. The Union government would be approached with the scheme.

Mr. Chandrasekharan said the KSCDC would take steps for improvement of the cashew sector. The State Budget should extend support all support to the KSCDC, he said.

Mr. Chandrasekharan stressed the need for increasing domestic production of raw cashew. The industry could not depend upon import of raw nuts. Steps would have to be taken on a war-footing to increase the area under cashew plantations in the State and in the country.

The constitution of a Cashew Board with its base in Kollam was vital for the progress of the cashew sector.

Though there were some hurdles to this, these were being overcome, and it was expected that the board would become a reality soon.

Mr. Chandrasekharan said the cargo port in Kollam should be developed and made operational for the benefit of the Kollam-based cashew industry. There were 30 cashew factories under the management of the KSCDC. Of these, 10 were fully owned by the KSCDC and the remaining 20 were on lease.