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  • India: Goa cashew nut prices hit century mark

    Mar 4th, 2015

    This season's first produce of cashew nuts has hit a morale-boosting century mark, with prices scaling a new milestone at Rs102-105 per kilo. It's an over 100% rise in prices from just seven years ago when a kilo drew Rs48-50. It's not just the unique flavour of Goa's cashew nuts that are attracting the pricing. "More and more people are savouring the cholesterol-free and nutrient-rich product, as it has been belatedly realized, especially if it is consumed in raw form as white kernel," said A S Kamath, adviser, Goa Cashew Processors Association.

    Though the prices are expected to stabilize later in the season as the availability of raw material improves with more supplies, even the kernel or the processed nut has shown a significant rise from Rs450-500 per kilo in 2014 to Rs500-600 per kilo this season. The prices have been growing steadily from Rs45-50 in 2008 to Rs50-55 in 2009, Rs62-65 in 2010, and Rs85-90 in 2011. While there was a dip to Rs70-75 in 2012, the rise continued to Rs90-95 in 2014.

    The unseasonal rain is being considered by local growers to be a blessing. The showers will boost the crop, though the flowering is likely to be delayed, said sources. Madhav Sahakari, president, Goa Cashew Manufacturers Association, told TOI, "The prospect of a better crop this year compared to the poorer crop globally last year appears to be good at this stage."

    The decline in crop is also a reason for the spike in prices. Despite Goa's modest production of about 20,000 tonnes of cashew nuts per annum, the state's cashew farmers find themselves reaping the benefit of rising prices. "In 2008, USA was the biggest consumer of cashew nuts, but domestic consumption has doubled and India is presently the largest consumer," said Kamath.

    While India is the largest producer and processor, Vietnam has carved a niche for itself as the largest exporter. This is attributed to the marginal domestic consumption, and the produce ends up being bulkily exported, said sources.

    Goan cashew nuts are known for their taste and quality, as farmers gather only mature ones after they fall to the ground. Local farmers consider the cashew crop as one of the most rewarding agricultural activities. "Minimal care is required and the crop grows in areas where nothing much else grows," said Kamath. But despite the support price provided by the state government, the state's production has been stagnating for a few years. Maharashtra is considered the model state encouraging cashew production and processing through various incentives. The industry taps locally available raw material and provides employment opportunities at the rural level.