By Parashram J. Patil
India is a leader in the world cashew economy, but is losing its grip over the business slowly, but surely. The main reason behind the decline is dwindling domestic production and productivity. Indian cashew processing units largely depend on import of raw cashew from African countries and Vietnam. The dependence on imported cashew for processing affects overall cashew business.
Cashew is one of the sectors where India need to be self-reliant. Cashew and Coca Development Board, the apex board, is working to improve cashew output and productivity. The mandate of the board is as under:
- Formulation and implementation of development programmes for cashew and cocoa.
- Promote new planting and replanting of cashew and cocoa in potential areas.
- Co-ordinate the activities for the promotion of cashew and cocoa between central and state institutes with the ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare.
- Monitoring cashew and cocoa development programmes under NHM.
- Advisory body to recommend, watch and monitor the various aspects of crop development, marketing and by-product utilisation.
- Function as data bank on crop area, production, price trends, marketing and trade performance.
- Take up intensive publicity measures for dissemination of technologies among farmers.
- Impart technical advice to farmers, entrepreneurs on all aspects of cultivation and processing.
- Despite its best efforts, the board is unable reach all across India due to lack of resources. Because of the gap between the apex agency and cashew farmers, various schemes, activities, and training programmes are not reaching all farmers. To implement the mandate of the cashew development board and for the welfare of cashew farmers, there is a need to set up regional cashew boards in many states.
The apex institution can reach the cashew farmers in remote areas through regional cashew boards. Maharashtra is the leading cashew producer, processor and exporter of cashew in India. Yet, the state has not achieved its full potential in this sector due to a lack of strategic approach. Maharashtra has tremendous potential for cashew production, processing and exports. Therefore, there is a need for a regional cashew board in Maharashtra. To make India self-reliant in cashew business, Maharashtra will have to play a crucial role.
A regional cashew board can be established at Chandgad Tehsil of Kolhapur district of Maharashtra. Chandgad is strategically located in the midst of cashew producing areas in Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka such as Belgaum, Karnvar, Khanapur, Dandeli, Goa, Shindurg, Ratanagiri, Raigad, Thane and Kolhapur. World’s best cashew is produced in Chandgad due to its special agroclimatic conditions. The town is well connected by road, air and rail. It is the hub of cashew nut industry with about 350 cashew processing units working in an around the place. The board can help strengthen India’s leadership position in the global cashew business.
The regional cashew boards can be opened in other cashew producing states. The cashew development board will need to expand its activities to step up cashew output. Millions of Indians are deriving their livelihood from cashew, therefore the country must become self-reliant. The board needs to put in an effort to raise domestic cashew production and productivity through an open regional cache.
(Dr Parashram J. Patil is a former agricultural export policy consultant with the ministry of commerce and industry. The views are personal)