BANGALORE: SEPTEMBER 18, 2011 00:00 IST
Following the shortage of raw cashew nuts to the tune of 7 lakh tonnes in the country this year, the Directorate of Cashew Research (DCR), Puttur, and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, have decided to increase the area under cashew plantation by extending it to non-traditional areas of cultivation.
DCR Director M. Gopalkrishna Bhat told The Hindu recently that there was a huge potential in non-traditional areas of Kolar, Chickballapur, Bangalore Rural, and Mysore districts to raise cashew trees.
At present, the area under cashew plantation in the State is around 1.18 lakh hectares, including the 26,000 hectares owned by the Karnataka Cashew Development Corporation.
Karnataka produces 53,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts annually. The yield per hectare is 720 kg as against a national average of 900 kg. Maharashtra ranks first in the country with an annual production of 1.98 lakh tonnes of raw cashew nuts. The price for a kg of raw cashew nut increased by about 50 per cent in 2011. The price rise encouraged farmers to continue with cashew cultivation instead of shifting to rubber cultivation. The cashew directorate distributed over 1.05 lakh saplings, he said.
However, the country's raw cashew nut production was insufficient to meet the demand by processing units. The requirement was about 14 lakh tonnes of raw cashew nuts to cater to the needs of large processing units which engaged at least 5 lakh workers. “We have established new research centres to study cashew production in various States. With the help of State agricultural universities and All India Coordinated Research Projects (AICRP), we have developed high-yielding cashew varieties. At present, there are 40 high-yielding varieties of cashew plants. We are working on genetic improvement of cashew for better quality kernel,” he said.
The DCR, which had prepared “Vision 2030”, had planned to organise awareness programmes for farmers about nutrient and irrigation management, climate change, post-harvest precautions, and high-density planting system for better production of cashew nuts. Farmers could avail themselves of financial aid under the National Horticultural Mission to plant saplings, Mr. Bhat said.
ICAR Goa Complex Director N.P. Singh said that the area under cashew cultivation in the country is over 9.23 lakh hectares, producing about 7 lakh tonnes of raw cashew nuts annually.