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  • Cashew corp finds African imports tough nut to crack

    Oct 3rd, 2015

    Intro: When Kerala government’s cashew corporation accumulates losses of crores of rupees, private companies are making a killing by supplying the corporation low-quality produce from Africa at outrageous prices. Jayan Menon tracks the intricate network of profiteers and corrupt officials in a series of investigative reports.The Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation Ltd (KSCDC) depends on African countries for a significant part of cashew nut supply. Its main supplier is a little-known company based at Kuruppanthara near Kottayam. The company, JMJ Traders, sources cashew nuts from Nigeria, Tanzania, Ivory Coast and other African producers to get the corporation going.

    M.V. Hansa Augsburg, a container ship, is key to understand the maritime trade. Two days before the cashew nut-laden vessel was to anchor off Kochi, JMJ Traders signed an agreement with the KSCDC to supply 6,000 metric tons of cashew nuts for $880.JMJ Traders then contracted the supply of 286.183 metric tons to Kollam-based Kumar Cashew Exports who sub-contracted the order to Sai Commodities, UK. All these while, the cargo was waiting at the sea.Sai Commodities supplied the consignment to Kumar Exports at just $723.19 per metric ton. Kumar Exports sold it to JMJ Traders at $839.25. The KSCDC finally had to shell out $888.88 for each of the 286.138 metric tons, resulting in a loss of $165.68 per metric ton in this small part of the larger deal. The corporation has lost Rs 21.95 lakh, documents show.

    The price difference also shows the huge losses the corporation has incurred on the entire deal. While the middlemen make a killing, the corporation is at sea.The cashew nuts procured at such great cost had become useless by the time they reached the corporation’s factories. Most of them had germinated and the workers could not even shell them.The KSCDC has given JMJ Traders permission for high-seas sales as the agency is not registered abroad. The corporation changed the tender conditions in favour of the agency without the mandatory approval of the government.Though the KSCDC had planned to procure 10,000 tons of cashew nuts locally this year, only 800 tons was collected directly from farmers.