July 13, 2017
Kottayam: Contrary to the diehard stance that has been the Left practice, the Left Democratic Front Government in Kerala has wisely decided to take a deviation and promote the private sector in the cashew industry in Kollam, the world cashew capital.
The CPM, which had been in the past targeting private cashew processing units for not paying sufficient wages, has now made a turn around and is working hard to promote the private sector.
When it was out of the government, the Left parties had flayed private units for extensively using machines without realising that government-owned ones are in the red.
Perhaps the crisis looming large over the industry has made the government make a drastic change in its policy. Many of the units have downed their shutters due to the unfriendly policy of the government.
The industry suffered mainly due to heavy support to government processing units and lack of a transparent policy on procuring raw cashew from African countries where the middlemen called the shots.
The LDF government allocated Rs 20 crore in the budget to revive the sector with the help of private players. The government has also decided to help private units get loan from banks.
It has set up the Kerala Cashew Board involving private players. This board will play key role in importing quality cashew bypassing middlemen.
The direct import is likely to take place in a couple of months. The upgradation of Kollam port will help in getting the consignments directly, industry sources said.
The government is also planning to increase cashew cultivation in Kollam. The lion’s share of the raw cashew is imported as the local supply is negligible.
In a bid to encourage local production, the government will distribute saplings to farmers, homes and education institutions.
In 2011 there were over 600 cashew processing units in Kollam which imported about 800,000 tonnes of raw cashews for processing each year. Presently, 80 per cent of country’s export quality cashew is processed here. India tops in export of cashew kernels and cashew nut shell liquid. It had earned foreign exchange worth Rs 4,390 during 2011-12. There are more than 250,000 employees directly involved in the industry in the district.