The cashew growers and traders are urging the state government to form a Cashew Development Board as the growth of the cashew industry in Andhra Pradesh is witnessing a gradual decline in the last 10 years. The area under cashew cultivation in AP has reduced by 30 percent in the last 10 years from 1, 82,000 hectares in 2008 to 127,000 hectares in the current year. Similarly, the production has also come down from 1, 12,000 metric tonnes to 97.5 metric tonnes, according to YSR Horticulture University.
Cyclones, Covid-19, and more importantly, the absence of high yield varieties are leading to scarcity in raw materials and the productivity of the processing units too, according to the cashew growers. Cashew is grown in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, upland area of East & West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam, Nellore (Kavali), districts of Coastal Zone and Chittoor (Satyavedu) district of Rayalaseema zone in Andhra Pradesh in an area of about 1.26 lakh hectares with a production of one lakh metric tonnes.
Cashew processing too is a well-established activity in the state. A total of 175 processing units are running at Palasa of Srikakulam district and Vetapalem of Prakasam district with a processing capacity of 95 MT which includes small and medium cashew industries. In 2018, the cyclone Titli has destroyed the cashew nut crop in over 1,600 hectares in parts of the Srikakulam district. The drop in cashew crop in Srikakulam and neighboring Odisha due to cyclones has been hitting the cashew industry hard for years as the traders have been struggling to procure sufficient raw cashew nut from Srikakulam and have been depending on imports for raw cashew nuts.
Speaking to Hello Vizag, President of Industrial Estate and owner of a cashew processing unit, Palasa, Malla Rameswara Rao, said that the area under cashew nut cultivation in Srikakulam district has also declined and the cashew trees became older and the yield also decreased. The cashew growers in Srikakulam district managed to supply only 30 percent of the total requirement of the units in the district and they have been importing the raw cashew from African countries at high prices to operate the units, he added. “Our sincere appeal to the government to develop the new varieties of cashew saplings to rescue the industry in the state. At the same time, we urge the state government to form a Cashew Development Board so that all the issues get special attention and resolved at the earliest,” he added
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