The Tamil Nadu Cashew Processors and Exporters Association (TNCPEA) has urged the Union government to restore the export incentive for cashew kernels to 5 per cent from the existing 2.5 per cent, as its exports have dropped.
In a memorandum addressed to the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal, the secretary of the Association M. Ramakrishnan said the government of India had provided an incentive of 5 per cent for export of plain cashew kernels. Subsequently, the incentive was cut to 3 per cent.
“However, with the introduction of the Remission of Duties and Taxes on Exported Products (RoDTEP) scheme, the incentive was found to have been further cut to 2.5 per cent with a cap value of ₹8.50 per kg of cashew kernels. With cashew processing being a labour-intensive industry, the Centre should abolish the cap value and restore the export incentive for cashew kernels to 5 per cent,” he said.
The Association also demanded that the Centre prevail upon the Tamil Nadu Government and abolish the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) cess on cashews to ensure a level-playing field for the traders in the State.
Stating that the APMC cess of 1 per cent was making the industry uncompetitive in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Ramakrishnan said many other cashew-producing States had not regulated raw cashew nuts. Manufacturers in the State were at a disadvantage on account of this. The Tamil Nadu government had already granted APMC cess exemption for many products like maize and cotton, he said.
Among other demands, TNCPEA also urged the Centre to exempt imported raw cashew nuts from Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) clearance in customs.
Mr. Ramakrishnan said raw cashew nuts were not edible and were subjected to steam boiling at 8-10 PSI for about 10-20 minutes before the shell was removed. The cashew kernel with Testa (outer covering) would be heated at 65-70 degree for about 10-11 hours before obtaining edible cashew kernel. “During fine grading, the damaged nuts are segregated while the good ones are fumigated and treated with an infra-red process before packaging. The process eliminates contamination of the raw seed. In addition, the raw seeds and cashew kernels are treated separately. Hence, the norms of edible nuts should not be applied to cashew kernels,” he said.
The FSSAI, through a notification in 2017, had issued directions regarding exemption for raw cashew nuts. However, the FSSAI was now insisting on customs clearance for importing raw cashew nuts. The Ministry should remove FSSAI clearance and permit imports of raw cashew nuts at sea ports across the country, he demanded.