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  • Time isn’t ripe for bumper cashew yield

    Feb 15th, 2018

    Goa’s cashew season for 2018 is likely to be delayed as new harvest could hit the market only in mid-March. The yield is also predicted to be less than the previous year’s produce of around 26,000 tonne. Industry stakeholders told ‘The Navhind Times’ that climatic conditions have impacted flowering, delaying the start of the season by at least a month. “Currently 90 per cent of the trees in cashew plantations have flowered; but by this time we would have been looking at a ripe fruit,” said a grower. He said that with a delayed season it is difficult to estimate how extensive the crop will be, but the yield it is not likely to go beyond the production clocked in 2017. Cashew farmers complained that the weather in December 2017 had not been normal because of cyclone Okhi, which had brought in scattered showers. “If the summer sets in early next month then blossoms could turn into fruit, but until then it is difficult to predict the crop,” a farmer said. In 2017, the state witnessed bountiful cashew produce with about 40 per cent increase in yield. The yield per kg was lucrative to the grower with the season opening at Rs 160 per kg for raw nuts before dropping to Rs 135 per kg. Most growers earned an average price of Rs 145 per kg during the previous season. Processor and exporter A Kamath said the average price to the farmer in the 2018 season could be in the range of Rs 150 per kg. The processing industry is anticipating volatile price of raw nuts but there will be no softening in the prices for the end-consumer, Kamath said. “Consumption of cashew nuts in the retail market is robust due to strong demand from residents and tourists,” he said. Sources in the agriculture department said that cashew produce has reached a plateau with 56,000 hectares of land under cultivation and production hovering between 24,000 tonne and 25,000 tonne annually in the state. The problem associated with cashew cultivation in Goa is of low yield as farmers make little effort to increase output through irrigation or better farming practices. Urbanisation and mining has decreased the number and size of plantations. Furthermore the new generation shies away from cashew cultivation. A cashew summit held in Goa in September 2017 had deliberated on the measures to increase yield in the state. The summit also deliberated on opening a branch office of the Cashew Export Promotion Council. It is pertinent to note here that the Union budget 2018-19 has lowered the import duty on raw nuts to 2.5 per cent. However, the reduction in duty will not impact Goan cashew processors much, as the industry is self-sufficient in most of its processing requirements. Only two-three exporting units import about 10-15 per cent of their raw material from countries like Indonesia, Tanzania and African countries.