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  • Interest sop for loans for cashew industry

    Feb 4th, 2019

    Private cashew traders who restructure bank loans to reopen their factories will be exempted from paying interest for a year, with the government bearing the entire interest for the year, Minister for Fisheries and Cashew Industries J. Mercykutty Amma said in the Assembly on Monday. In answer to a question by R. Ramachandran, the Minister said that of the 864 cashew factories, 482 were open and functioning. About 175 factory owners had approached the government for restructuring.

    Firm may face action

    Ms. Mercykutty said Vijayalakshmi Cashew Industries, which employs over 8,000 workers, had however chosen to turn their back on the government’s efforts to keep the factories open. The government would contemplate serious action against the firm, she said. The Minister’s statement was challenged by Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, who said that the factories were open, but only on paper. Almost all cashew sector workers were currently without work. He reminded the House that the same Minister had been at the forefront of the strike during the last government’s term, demanding that all unopened factories be taken over by the government.

    Ms. Mercykutty said the factories were indeed open but the government was unable to provide at least 200 work days to the cashew workers. Replying to a question by M. Mukesh, she said that the government intended to retain the Kollam brand of cashews and hence the cashew industries in the public sector would opt only for semi-mechanisation. Processed cashew nuts and those from fully mechanised factories taste different, she said. Shortage of raw cashew was the major problem faced by the State’s cashew industries and despite efforts the government had not been able to get Tanzania, the largest producer and procurer of cashew, to import cashew to Kerala.

    She said that though the government had plans to take land on lease in neighbouring States to cultivate cashew, it had not worked out. The Central University of Kerala has now developed a new breed of bush-type cashew, 600 saplings of which can be accommodated in an acre.

    Low quality fare

    The government will buy 3 lakh cashew saplings from the university and the plan is to encourage all farmers in Kerala to cultivate as much cashew as possible. She said that low quality raw cashew from Vietnam, brought into the country in the guise of cattle feed, was being marketed by many in the State and that this would be checked.