India: Crisis in the cashew industry

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    The government will intervene to solve the problems of cashew processors and ensure job security in the sector, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Saturday.

    After a meeting convened at the Asramam guest house to resolve the crisis in the industry, he said talks would be held with banks to give the processors additional time to repay their loans. If needed, the government would approach the Reserve Bank of India for relaxation and the demand of the processors to reschedule the current loans would be considered.

    The demand for inclusion of the sector in the Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprises would be brought to the attention of the Central government.

    The Chief Minister assured the processors that the government would look into their suggestion for partial mechanisation retaining maximum work force. Though Kollam used be the centre of cashew industry in the past, now it had spread to other districts and even States outside Kerala. Many cashew-producing countries had now started processing, leading to tight competition in the global market.


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    Mechanisation

    In such a situation, the government would explore the possibilities to make the industry profitable. The proposal to switch to 40% mechanisation to keep the industry afloat would be studied before reaching any decision. He added that the government would offer all support to the sector and it had been helping the Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation (KSCDC) and Kerala State Cashew Workers Apex Industrial Cooperative Society (Capex).

    Cashew Industry Minister J. Mercykutty Amma, who participated at the meeting, said the high price of raw cashew nut and increasing competition were the main factors currently putting the industry in a difficult spot. The State now has 800 factories in the place of an earlier 500. “Among the 282 factories functioning now, 174 are in Kollam,” she said.

    Former Minister P.K. Gurudasan and former MP K.N. Balagopal participated in the discussions.


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