Why we need to boost Cashew Export in Konkan Region of the State?

24 Dec 2021

Opinion: Poonam Munjal and Nijara Deka

Indian cashew is exported to more than 60 countries in the world with the main markets being UAE USA Netherlands UK Germany Japan and Australia.

The country earned foreign exchange equivalent to Rs. 5870.97 crores from the export of 84352 metric tonnes of cashew nuts during the year 2017-18. 

Maharashtra accounts for one-third of the country’s total cashew production of which a significant proportion (over 60 per cent) is produced in the Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts therefore it is reasonable to assume that cashew from these districts accounts for a sizeable share in country’s export to other countries.

Hence cashew grown in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg clearly has a huge demand in the international market. 

According to the Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Production Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Maharashtra accounted for about 33 per cent of the total country’s cashew production in 2017-18. Its share has remained almost unchanged since the last ten years.

Figure 1 presents the shares of the top cashew-producing States in the country in terms of both area and production. The figure also depicts the productivity of cashew in these States as per the latest data from 2017-18.   

Figure 1: Shares of States in the Production and Area under Cashew Cultivation


 

Source:Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Production Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare

Maharashtra far exceeds the other cashew producing states in terms of area under cashew cultivation cashew production and also its productivity at 1378 kg/hectare.

Within Maharashtra cashew is a traditional crop in Konkan region comprising Palghar Raigad Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts. The total area under cashew cultivation is 1.91 lakh hectares of which more than 75 per cent is in the South Konkan region of Maharashtra mainly in Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri district.

While the productivity of Raigad is the highest at 1500 kg/hectare but its share in both area and production is very small. The productivity in Sindhudurg is impressive at 1378 kg/ha. Together Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg account for more than 95 percent of the area under cashew production in South Konkan region.

Their share in production is also more than 95 percent. Clearly there is an abundance of cashew produce for overseas market. 

Figure 2: Shares of the South Konkan Districts in the Production and Area under Cashew Cultivation



Source:District Superintendent Agriculture Officer Ratnagiri.

There are about 800 cashew-processing units in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg district. Most of these are small labour-intensive units that are capable of generating significant employment opportunities especially for rural women.

Apart from this there is one in Ratnagiri district and two-cashew cluster in Sindhudurg district to provide common facilities to cashew processing units. 

Against this backdrop the district stakeholders of the Konkan region processing units and cashew farmers are unanimous in putting up their voices for a regional branch of Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI) in either of the two districts.

They have argued this on the ground that having a regional branch will increase the export of cashew kernel as well as Cashew Nut Cell Liquid (CNCL) and area under cashew cultivation. This initiative is also expected uplift the economy of the entire south Konkan region and increased capital formation and foreign exchange earning for the economy as a whole.  

The Government of Maharashtra is taking several initiatives to promote the export of mangoes produced in the two districts and has announced that the districts of Ratnagiri Sindhudurg Thane and Raigad in the Konkan region would comprise the Agri-export Zone for Alphonso mangoes. Central Government’s scheme of One District One Product (ODOP) also considers only Mango for Ratnagiri and Sindudurg.

Since both cashews and mangoes are major cash crops in the Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg district the cashew growers are demanding some initiatives for the promotion of cashew kernel also. One of these is the setting up of a regional office or a branch of the Cashew Export Promotion Council in either Ratnagiri or Sindhudurg district and considering cashew along with mango for ODOP.

The cashew and mango grown in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg have huge demand in international market. But these are not directly exported from the districts. The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust Navi Mumbai is 300 km. away from Ratnagiri. The sources of transportation are Konkan railway and Mumbai Goa highway.  

The cashew processing units in South Konkan region will be worth contributing in processing of 158537 MT cashew from domestic market as well as cashew imported from African countries.

The cashew export promotional council will play prominent role in the export of cashew kernel in the global market. It will be also helpful to establish brand image of Konkan Cashew Kernel like Ratnagiri Alphonso mango. 

Currently due to financial constraints the processing units are not optimally utilised. Rather than exporting they are forced to send their produce to other states like Goa Kerala and Andhra Pradesh etc. Also the processing units operate for only 4 months in a year due to lack of working capital.

For providing necessary liaison for bringing together foreign importers with member exporters of cashew kernels also a regional branch of CEPCI could provide necessary network. This will result in higher profitability to the cashew processing units due to attractive prices in the global market. 

In Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts there are infrastructural facilities required for promotion of mangoes cashew kernel processed fish  and other products like ports as Jaygad port Javaharlal Neharu Port Trust ( JNPT)  authority for issue of Phy-  sanitary  certificate required for export Export Promotion Agency Office Export Inspection Agency etc.

Maharashtra State Agricultural Produce Marketing Board is providing storage facility and loan facility on the pledge of cashew through Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee. If the regional office of Cashew Export Promotion Council extends support to the cashew processors it will be helpful to growers of cashew to get remunerative price to the produce earning more profitability to the cashew processors due higher prices in the export market and huge employment generation to the illiterate rural women folk.

Poonam Munjal Senior Fellow National Council of Applied Economic Research and Nijara Deka Associate Fellow National Council of Applied Economic Research. Views are personal.

Published in: QRIUS, 24 Dec 2021