‘Cashew is not available throughout the year to run the processing units’
Belgaum: Despite efforts by the Horticulture Department, no entrepreneur is coming forward to invest in cashew processing units in Belgaum and Khanapur taluks which are known for cashew cultivation in the district.
The State Government has announced 25 per cent subsidy on plant and machinery (up to Rs. 6 lakh) to encourage entrepreneurs to establish cashew processing units. Yet, nobody appears to be keen on taking advantage of this support.
Sources in the department told The Hindu here on Tuesday that the area under cashew production in the district was 5,781 hectares. Of the 10 taluks in the district, cashew farms were found in four taluks and the largest area of 3,415 hectares was in Khanapur, followed by Belgaum 2,000 hectares, Hukkeri 205 hectares, and Bailhongal 161 hectares.
The sources said that the Government was providing a subsidy of Rs. 11,250 per hectare for cashew cultivation. Growers would get the benefit only after planting cashew saplings.
The Horticulture Department had been conducting training programmes in cultivation and management of cashew crop.
They said there were only four processing units in Belgaum and Khanapur taluks. Yet, given the area under cashew cultivation, there was scope for setting up small processing units.
The growers said that there was no proper marketing arrangement for cashew and they sold the produce to the processing units directly or to wholesale traders who opened stalls in villages during the harvest season.
Abdul Syed, a trader in Belgaum, said the produce procured from growers would be sold to the processing units.
The traders would make a profit of only one rupee a kg. of cashew nut. The supply and quality of raw cashew had been affected owing to pre-monsoon showers and gusty wind this year. However, the prices had marginally gone up from Rs. 45 last year to Rs. 50 this year.
The sources said that entrepreneurs were not coming forward because cashew as raw material was not available throughout the year to run the processing units. Thus, small units operated on seasonal basis. Also, unlike in neighbouring Maharashtra, Goa and Kerala, most of the growers here had taken up cashew as an additional crop and not as a main crop.
The demand for cashew nut at national and international markets had been increasing.
The climatic conditions in the district were ideal for increasing cashew cultivation, they added.