Cashewnut exports dip, but it's no bolt from the blue for growers

There is a 21% drop from the previous year’s exports of 75,450 tonnes, according to Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). 
Last Updated : 30 July 2023, 22:54 IST

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An increase in per capita domestic consumption of cashewnut – from 5 gram to 230 gram - over the last two decades has helped the cashew processing industry sustain despite a steep decline in international demand.

The exports of cashew kernel (processed cashew) from India has declined from 1,26,667 tonnes in 2004-05 to 59,581 tonnes in 2022-23.

There is a 21 per cent drop from the previous year’s exports of 75,450 tonnes, according to Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

Also, cashewnut prices have witnessed a global slump. “A record import of raw cashew and a good harvest ensured that the total supply of the nut outstripped demand,” said Bola Rajesh Kamath, a cashew entrepreneur.

Processing hub

Over the years, India has emerged as a processing hub for the global cashew industry.

Apart from processing the cashew grown in the country, India imports raw cashew and processes it.

In 2022-23, India saw record imports of 1.3 million tonnes of raw cashew.

Raw cashew production in the country for the same period stood at 0.78 million tonnes.

“This year's wholesale prices are lowest since 2016,” informs G Giridhar Prabhu, former president of Karnataka Cashew Manufacturers Association (KCMA).

The decline in exports and price slump has not set alarm bells ringing, though. The effect is offset by an increase in domestic demand.

Dishes galore

In India, from curries to sweets, cashew has become a necessary ingredient in many dishes.

"Nearly 60 per cent of cashew nut consumption is indirect," says J D Adiga, director, ICAR-directorate of cashew research, Puttur. Even direct consumption has increased over the years.

In fact, domestic prices are 15 per cent higher than the rates in the international market, according to exporters.

Dakshina Kannada has one of the largest cashew processing clusters in the country. Other cashew-processing hubs are in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Goa.

“Due to the increasing domestic per capita consumption, India's cashew industry is able to reduce its dependence on exports,” says Walter D'Souza, vice chairman of Cashew Export Promotion Council of India.

Smart marketing

Marketing strategies such as 'cashew festival’ helped popularise the nut, D'Souza says.

The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) has approved the roadmap of the Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development to extend the area under cashew cultivation by 1.2 lakh hectares.

According to Prakash S Netalkar, managing director of Karnataka Cashew Development Corporation Limited (KCDCL), growers should get a better price for raw cashewnuts. KCDCL oversees 25,629 hectares of cashew plantations in the state.

Future tense

Subhas Rai Kadamajalu, treasurer of the All India Cashew Growers Association, says many growers were shifting to rubber or arecanut cultivation as raw cashewnut is sold for Rs 80 to Rs 100 per kg. A cashew grower does not make any profit if raw cashewnut is sold below Rs 80 per kg.

“This year, the yield in my cashew plantation, spread over 14 acres of land near Puttur, was less due to climatic conditions. I managed to get a gross profit of Rs three lakh,” he added.

Why strong domestic demand helps?

India’s cashew industry, due to high processing costs, cannot compete with foreign countries, particularly Vietnam. There, a cashew tree yields over 20 kg of raw cashewnut and in India, the average yield per tree is three to four kg, ICAR-CPCRI, Kasargod Director K B Hebbar said.

The cost of processing in India is four times that of Vietnam. The cost of processing in India is about Rs 3,600 per bag of 80 kg, while in Vietnam it is 800 per 80 kg bag.

Domestic price of cashewnut is over Rs 630 per kg, while in exports, the price is about Rs 560 per kg, exporters said.

Info nuggets on the nut

India is the largest cashew consumer worldwide and second largest exporter of cashew kernels

India’s edible cashew kernel production stood at 3.5 lakh to 3.7 lakh tonnes

India accounts for more than half of global cashew imports

Area under cashew cultivation in India - 11.58 lakh hectares

Employment generation in cashew sector - 1.5 million people

Published 30 July 2023, 16:50 IST

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