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  • Goa: Cashew zones’ auction begins, up to 40% will see no takers

    Feb 14th, 2020

    Even as the annual auctioning of cashew zones has begun, the excise department does not expect a rise in its revenue collection, this year as well. The expected revenue ranges between Rs 35 and 40 lakh, and has not witnessed any significant rise in the past few years. In total, 1,675 zones are on auction for the season and it is estimated that 30-40 % of them will not be bid on, as per the trend observed during the past few years. “The cashew zones in Canacona, Bicholim and Sattari have very few takers,” an excise official said, adding that zones in South Goa were auctioned on Wednesday. In 2018-19, he said 475 zones were not taken, out of the total 1,671 zones that were auctioned. For zones thathave no takers, he said, sealed tenders will be invited. If still not bid on, applications are received from interested parties, the officer said.

     The department, he said, can hope to get a better price for zones when there is some competition. In the past, he said, certain zones were auctioned even for Rs 1 lakh, but it is no more the case. He said, some zones exist only on paper and hence complete physical verification of the site has to be done. “Some zones have disappeared, for trees may be cleared for commercial purposes or for building homes,” he said. Some of the cashew zones remain unpopular among bidders as the people who were traditionally into cashew juice extraction and distilling have moved on to other professions. Also, a small zone with just 20 to 25 trees is not an attractive option for it will not help economise the cost of production.

     “Large properties have been divided among family members ,and this has resulted in reducing size of the zones,” he said. In some cases, the department itself has reduced the size of the zones, which has led to a slight increase in the number of zones, he said. “There will be no takers for zones if the juice extractor will need to travel a distance of four to five kilometres to get the raw material. It is not a viable option if he is a small trader,” the official said. In some zones, the terrain is difficult. No proper access is available, while manual collection is not an easy solution because it is difficult to get labourers. “Due to the high cost of labour, the overall cost of feni production increases,” said a trader. The department has fixed the rate for selling cashew apples without nuts at Rs 3.5 per kg and cashew juice is to be sold at Rs 4.5 per kg. The officer said, licensees can’t sell cashew juice at below or above the price fixed by the government.