A delegation of diplomats from the continent visit KSCDC factory at Ayathil
Though many African countries are major producers of raw cashew, it is perhaps for the first time that diplomats from those countries got an opportunity for a close encounter with manual cashew processing in India. The diplomats gazed in awe and wonder after witnessing hundreds of women processing cashew with great skill.
One of the diplomats, Mahi Felicite, Counsellor with the Ivory Coast Embassy in Delhi, was so thrilled by the process that she even gave a hand to one of the workers.
The venue was the Ayathil factory of the public sector Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation (KSCDC).
Though the African countries are major producers of raw cashew, they process hardly 10% of it and most of the processing there, which is of recent origin, is mechanised.
After tasting the processed nuts, the diplomats said that the taste of the manually processed nuts was far superior.
The bulk of the raw cashew nuts produced in the African countries are exported and India, especially the Kollam-based cashew industry, is its major importer.
The delegation was part of the two-day Cashew Conclave organised by the State government to probe ways to procure raw cashew from the African countries without middlemen. The middlemen were found making unholy profits at the cost of the African farmers and the Indian processors, a truth that the diplomats from the African countries subscribed to, said KSCDC chairman S. Jayamohan.
The diplomats had promised to consider it seriously in the larger interests of their farmers. They also promised to probe ways to ensure regular supply of raw nuts to India as the processing industry here was labour intensive and offered a means of livelihood for lakhs of women, Mr. Jayamohan said.
He said the raw nut season in Ivory Coast would start this month and the cashew industry here looked forward to cooperation from that country for direct procurement of nuts.
The diplomats were later treated to a Kalaripayattu show and a cruise on Ashtamudi Lake.