BUSINESS

KVK trainee starts cashew apple processing unit

Staff Reporter

KANNUR: The Kannur Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) at Panniyur here needs no better example of its success in offering training in various agriculture-related activities than the first-ever cashew apple processing unit in the district started by one of its trainees.

Tomychan Syriac, an enterprising young farmer from Vaniampara, near Iritty, has started the cashew apple processing unit under the trade name `Tomco Products.' Tomco cashew apple products, including cashew apple syrup and soft drinks, are the first of their kind in the State in the private sector.

Mr. Syriac received not only vocational training from the KVK but also post-training assistance and guidance in project preparation, getting FPO licence, purchase and installation of equipment, labelling, bottling and marketing.

"The response of consumers to Tomco cashew apple syrup and soft drinks is encouraging," Mr. Syriac said, adding that the products were now being made available in retail outlets, including margin-free shops. He had participated in a district-level industrial fair here recently and sold products valued at Rs.18,000 within a week, he said. He had submitted a project under Vision 2010-Horticulture for approval. The total outlay of the project was Rs.39.80 lakh.

"Very few people know that the cashew apple they throw away after taking the nuts is far more nutritive than pineapple," KVK project coordinator K. Abdul Kareem said. Three lakh tonnes of cashew apples were wasted every year in the district, he said. The district stood first in the area under cashew cultivation and second in cashew production in the State, he added.

Dr. Kareem said cashew apples would fetch more money than the nuts. A kg of nuts having an average 150 nuts fetched Rs.40 whereas 150 cashew apples could be sold for Rs.50, he said.

The KVK had conducted a 15-day vocational programme for farmers during the last cashew season. The technology for producing value-added products from cashew apples was available with Kerala Agricultural University, Dr. Kareem said.