There is huge potential for cashew cultivation in India, as the country imports half the raw cashew needed for processing units, Venkatesh Hubballi, head of the Kochi-based Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development (DCCD) has said.
He was speaking at the workshop on cashew organised by the College of Horticulture here on Wednesday.
“Over 13 lakh tonnes of raw cashew is needed to keep the 4,000 cashew processing units across the country busy for half the year. However, we grow only around 6.5 lakh tonnes over 9.5 lakh hectares in 15 States.
For years, the average import of cashew has been 6.5 lakh tonnes. This has led to an interesting situation where we earn Rs. 3,000 crore a year exporting cashew nuts, but spend Rs. 3,100 crore on imports,” Dr. Hubballi said.
As cashew was a commercial crop, farmers could profit from its cultivation.
Besides, cashew cultivation, processing and marketing had created 17 lakh jobs in the country. Further growth would create more jobs, he said.
The Union Government was taking steps to promote domestic cultivation of cashew, Dr. Hubballi said. Agencies such as the Indian Council of Agricultural Research were promoting research in high-yielding and disease resistant varieties. Agricultural and horticultural universities provided consultancy and extension services to farmers. The DCCD provided cash incentives of Rs. 85 a plant over three years to farmers.
The laterite soil, rainfall and extended winter in Bidar district was suitable for cashew cultivation, Dr. Hubballi added. Besides, it was more pest and disease resistant than many other fruit crops and did not demand intensive irrigation, making it easy to be grown on waste land.
Plantation crop expert S.I. Hanumashetty claimed cultivating cashew was easier and more profitable than growing mango.
Dr. Hanumashetty, who was Dean of the College of Horticulture, Bidar, said the college was involved in the cultivation of 1,000 acres of cashew in association with DCCD and the NGO Pravardha.
Around 100 farmers from the region participated.Staff Correspondent