Kerala Minister for Fisheries, Harbour Engineering and Cashew Industry J. Mercykutty Amma. — | Photo Credit: CH_VIJAYA BHASKAR
The cashew industry in the State is going to have 75 lakh man-days of employment generated and adopt the best practices implemented by the Kerala State Agency for the Expansion of Cashew (KSACC) as part of a collaboration which has just been given in-principle clearance by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.
As per the proposal submitted to him by Kerala Minister for Fisheries, Harbour Engineering and Cashew Industry, J. Mercykutty Amma, Andhra Pradesh will give 50,000 hectares to the KSACC for cashew cultivation with an initial investment of ₹700 crore over five years (2017-22).
The farming will be done by farmers’ societies of A.P. under the supervision of the KSACC and the production is to be procured by Kerala.
A lease agreement is to be signed for 99 years by the departments concerned of the A.P. and Kerala governments for taking the National Horticulture Mission (NHM)–funded project forward.
The biggest benefit for the State is the job creation as the project facilitates import of high-yielding grafts.
In an exclusive interview with The Hindu on the sidelines of the National Women’s Parliament here on Saturday, Ms. Mercykutty said cashew industry in Kerala, on which more than a million people are dependent for livelihood, is facing a major crisis of Raw Cashew Nut (RCN) shortage due to low domestic production. Six lakh metric tonnes (MT) of RCN was needed in Kerala in a year but the production hovered around just 80,000 MT.
A lion’s share of the RCN required by Kerala is being imported from various countries and some of them imposed a partial ban on RCN export. A price hike also affected the cashew industry in the recent years.
It is to sustain the cashew industry in Kerala where low availability of domestic RCN and dependence on imports had emerged as major concerns, the KSACC explored the availability of land on a lease basis in A.P. for over three months and succeeded in getting it cleared by the NHM and Mr. Naidu.
Once the formalities are completed in about a week, the two governments will sign an MoU for giving the project a tangible shape. Ms. Mercykutty said a Detailed Project Report was prepared for implementing the project from 2017-18 to 2021-22 in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam and the two Godavari districts.