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  • Cashew delight after mango comes a cropper

    Mar 26th, 2015

    Call it a twist of fate if you will but horticulturists of north coastal Andhra left mourning the damage caused to their mango plantations by Cyclone Hudhud, have been left surprised by the profuse flowering of cashew in all the three districts. In fact, though the average annual yield of cashew (with kernel) in the region is around 30,000 tonnes, is expected to hit the 45,000 tonnes mark this year despite the havoc wreaked by Hudhud.

    Experts and horticulturists point out that while the taller and stronger trees mango trees bore the brunt of Hudhud, the crawly cashew trees, the branches of which are not as brittle as those of mango, sustained comparatively little damage and the ample rains even in the upland areas, where the soils are not water logged, have probably given cashew the advantage it required to blossom. The average annual yield of mango is around one million tonnes, with most of the upland area in the three north coastal districts traditionally being a mango bastion. However, over the last three decades many farmers have taken to planting cashew along with mango for more consistent results.

    Experts feel that the bumper cashew crop could also have something to do with high average humidity levels, which ranged between 65% and 80% from June to November. "Various factors contributed to this phenomenon (bumper cashew). There is no doubt that in most of the mixed groves mango took a severe beating and as all the plantation land is upland, there was hardly any water logging, though the ground water levels did improve. The third factor could be the consistent and apt humidity levels," said an official from the horticulture department in Vizag district.

    Though experts may not be able to pinpoint one particular reason, the farmers are quite relieved, if not exactly happy. K Ayyappa, a mango and cashew trader from Gajuwaka, who took on lease more than 350 acres of mango and cashew groves said, "I cannot say I'm happy, but I'm definitely relieved. Cashew has definitely come to my rescue. However, I have invested heavily on the plantations post Hudhud and because of a poor mango crop, I might still not break even."

    Practicing horticulturist and soil conservation expert VKN Sarma of Vizianagaram district said, "A lot of people are not aware that in South America, cashew, which is native to that continent, is considered an excellent wind breaker. In countries such as Brazil, cashew has been planted extensively in areas prone to hurricanes. In fact, this had been the case all along the north coastal AP coastline as well where the first line of defense was casuarina and the second was cashew. However, unfortunately, species such as eucalyptus, acacia and fancy avenue trees are slowly replacing these varieties. This practice must stop."