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  • Mechanisation to the rescue of Karnataka cashew processors during pandemic

    Aug 5th, 2020

    Mechanisation of cashew factories seems to have helped cashew processors in Karnataka in managing the situation during the pandemic. K Prakash Rao, partner in Mangaluru-based Kalbavi Cashews, told BusinessLine that cashew processing units in Karnataka have largely mechanised their manufacturing activities. This has helped processors in managing better in these difficult times. He said the number of employees required to process is reduced by 75 per cent in automated plants vis-a-vis manual processing units. With this, it is easy to manage social distancing norms and precautions during operations, he said. Standard operating procedures Subraya Pai, President of Karnataka Cashew Manufacturers’ Association (KCMA), told BusinessLine that cashew processing units are doing well by maintaining social distance and following standard operating procedures prescribed by the government. “Mechanisation has helped us pretty well in such a situation,” he said. There are over 250 cashew units in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Shivamogga, Uttara Kannada, Kolar and Belagavi districts of Karnataka. Most of these units are now functional, though at reduced capacity. Prakash Rao said that when the lockdown was imposed on March 23, most people in the cashew industry wondered if there would be demand for cashews in the pandemic times. “We were all worried as to what we would do with the raw material already procured and contracted, and if would we all end up becoming NPAs. But to the great relief of all of us, cashews with other dry fruits are now pursued as a healthy food and, in fact, consumption of these regularly boosts immunity by keeping the body and mind healthy,” he said. Stating that cashew consumption started improving in May, he said June has seen decent offtake by most traders and modern retail chains. The month of July brought demand close to normalcy, he said. However, Rao was of the opinion that the demand for Karnataka cashews could be due to supply disruption in other cashew producing origins such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Odisha, where the impact of Covid-19 is more severe than in Karnataka. “Most of the small manufacturers in these States are unable to operate and manage the current situation as this activity is still largely labour-intensive there,” he said.