Cash-strapped labour caught in cashew industry blues

Cash-strapped labour caught in cashew industry blues


The Rs 3,000-crore Cashew industry in the coastal districts is facing a severe crisis with its labour force staring at a bleak future.

Mangaluru, hailed as the country’s cashew capital, has already begun witnessing seasonal employment and underemployment in cashew industries.

Sources in the Karnataka Cashew Manufacturers Association (KCMA) said, a year ago the market prices of raw cashew nuts dipped drastically by 50%.

India’s economic slowdown, steep taxes and market saturation are posing a threat to the very survival of the cashew industry.

In the last few months, as many as 900 cashew industries have closed down in Kerala and nearly 25 to 30 cashew industries in the coastal districts are on the verge of closure, sources in KCMA told DH.

Former president of KCMA G Giridhar Prabhu said, that the Centre must redress the grievance and revive the industries.

He informed that their representations to ministers and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs to ensure smooth clearance of imported raw cashew nuts at New Mangalore Port (more than 250 consignments are imported every month) has drawn no response so far.

“Customs authorities are not accepting the value of products declared by the importers and are arbitrarily fixing the price for import of raw cashew nut in shells,” Uttara Kannada MP Anantkumar Hegde mentioned in a letter submitted to Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur recently.

Information under Right to Information revealed that value of many B/Es (Bill of Entries on imported articles) were reassessed and increased in price by almost 70 to 80% by custom officials.

“Sometimes B/E penalty (for delay in filing bills of entries) was higher than cargo value itself, resulting in dumping of cargo,” sources added.

But such a practice is not followed in other ports like Thoothukudi, Mundra and Visakhapatnam port which handle five times more volume than Mangalore port, informs Giridhar Prabhu.