By Express News Service
JEYPORE: The Odisha Cashew Processors Association has urged Union Minister of State for MSME Pratap Sarangi to announce a special package for the cashew industry, hit hard by the lockdown. Around 50 owners of cashew processing units from the State interacted with the Minister during a webinar on Friday. They said the lockdown has come as a severe jolt for the industry, which has been suffering huge losses for the last two years, due to an epidemic. Stressing the need for a special cashew marketing policy, they urged the Minister to revive the food processing units.
They appealed Sarangi to provide them interest free loans, relaxation on electricity, water tariffs and GST. The Minister said the Centre has been emphasising revamp of MSME industries across the country and assured to look into their demands. Around 1,20,000 cashew is produced by as many as 400 processing units in the State. General Secretary of Odisha Cashew Processors Association Monasis Panda said over 5 lakh workers, growers and processors have been hit hard by cash crisis and the lockdown across the country.
The Odisha Cashew Processors Association (OCPA) was started in the year 1997-98. In the past 18 years, OCPA has done tremendous work for the Cashew Sector in the state Odisha. The state of Odisha is the third largest state for Cashew cultivation, production & processing. As on date, Odisha has 1.68 lakh Hectares under Cashew plantation, which is around 16% of India’s cashew acreage. Odisha produces around 100,000 metric tonnes of Raw Cashew Nuts (RCN) per annum, which is around 13.6% of India’s RCN production. Today, Odisha has around 350 Cashew processing units, which are mostly located in remote places of Odisha and are mostly in Micro, Tiny & Small Scale Industries. The Industry processes around 1.25 lakh metric tonnes RCN per year. To meet the RCN requirements, the industry is Importing it from different African Countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin, Ghana, Ginea Bissau, Tanzania and Mozambique.
In all these year. OCPA is working with the state Government in all respect to popularize Govt. policies, incentives, subsidies and other Govt. mandatory rules regulations of the State as well as Centre. OCPA has also created a very good standing of the state ODISHA through attending different state, national & international level Seminars mostly happening every year in Bhubaneshwar, Kerala, Goa & Karnataka. OCPA members attend in good numbers different Seminars to learn more & more. Odisha cashew sector generates more than Rs.900 crores from Raw Cashew production and with value addition it becomes approximately Rs. 1250 Crores every Year. Being agro based & labor intensive, the Odisha cashew industry generates more than 88 lakh mendays or every day livelihood to around 32,000 rural poor women mostly living in remote village areas for the entire year, who are having no work other than the agricultural activities only in paddy season.
Rightly, the Govt. of India & also Odisha State are giving stress to the development of the sector. OCPA had started a cashew processing certificate course to create skilled manpower & employment, in Govt. ITI, Berhampur, Ganjam jointly with Industry Department of Odisha State Govt. on PPP mode. This is the first-of-its-kind programme in the world & created history, where already two batches have passed out successfully.
The state Odisha is situated in the east coast of India with 10 climatic zones, 482 Km of coastal line (Bay of Bengal), rich forest areas, mountains, good number of rivers, underground mines of Iron Ore, Coal, Bauxite etc. Also it has world famous monuments like Konark, Lord Jagannath temple and lake Chilika, the second largest lagoon in the world and is a good tourist destination. Odisha stands third in Cashew cultivation, production and processing in India, claiming 16% of land under cashew cultivation area at 1.68 Lakh hectares and producing 1,00,000 MT of Raw Cashew Nut (13.6% of India’s Raw Cashew Nut production). As on date, there are more than 350 cashew processing industries processing approximately 1,25,000 metric tonnes of Raw Cashew Nuts, thus generating 35,000 employment opportunities every day.
The economy of Odisha cashew sector: Raw Cashew Nut sector generates an annual revenue of Rs 950 crores. Converting raw cashews into kernels by processing earns an additional value of more than Rs 250 crores. Hence, Odisha cashew sector generates approximately Rs 1200 crores every year. The average RCN yield per hectare in Odisha is 680 kg per hectare which is lower than national and international average. Therefore, the appropriate and timely steps such as gap filling of old and senile orchards, planting of new hybrid varieties in waste and fallow lands and new variety of grafted plants need to taken on war footing to boost Odisha’s economy so also to generate future employment along with environmental point of view.
Odisha is the third largest producer, processor of cashew in India. Despite that, the state is unable to export a single kilogram of Cashew Kernels. Hence it becomes the moral responsibility of every stakeholder of the entire cashew value chain, including the concerned State Govt. departments to look into the sector seriously to achieve the goal, for the best interest of the farmers and the economy..
The major advantages in Odisha state are vast waste lands for future cashew plantation, favorable climatic conditions, self sufficient energy management, good connectivity such as rail, road, air and port and availability of rural women force and raw cashew nut.
The major drawbacks in the state are (a) Lack of proper policy of raw cashew distribution to the processing Industries, and (b) Inadequate finance to cashew units by Banks or financial Institutions. In addition to this, lack of awareness and latest technical know how of the technologies, lack of proper grading as per CEPCI, lack of proper packing for exports, lack of commission agents for marketing of cashew kernels and lack of infrastructure facilities and Govt. support for export from the state.
Odisha State has a bright future for both cashew plantations and processing. Together with the government, the cashew industry in Odisha can reap the benefits.
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