Cashew industry faces dire straits compelling Sri Lanka to import cashew nuts.
By: Staff Writer
February 07, Colombo (LNW): The ongoing practice of not harvesting cashew crop in Sri Lanka has severely affected the lives of thousands of farmers and day workers.
While the farmers are unable to sell their produce even at reduced prices, let alone getting remunerative prices, the workers are struggling to make their ends meet as the processing units remain shut and business operations came to a halt.
Various reasons such as plummeting of rates, competition from imported cashew and an unexpected decline and uncollected yield have prompted the owners of cashew processing units and traders in the market to shut down their operations. .
The Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval to import 15,000 tonnes of cashew nuts in shell since the country’s annual requirement of cashew nuts in shell has not been met due to the fact that the crops have not been harvested as expected in the last season.
Joining the Cabinet press conference held in Colombo Cabinet Spokesperson Minister Bandula Gunawardena said that the country’s annual requirement of cashew nuts in shell is around 25,000 Metric Tonnes.
However, currently only 12,500 tonnes of cashew nuts can be procured locally and the cashew industry in the country is facing a very unfortunate situation as the crop has not been harvested as expected in the last season, according to the Minister.
Therefore, the Cabinet of Ministers has approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Agriculture and Plantation to import a maximum of 15,000 tonnes of cashew nuts in shell for this year.
Threafter it has to import a quantity of cashew nuts determined by a committee consisting of senior officials of the relevant ministries during the period from December to April when the local cashew harvest is not available in the next 4 years.
Cashew is imported in large quantities from India and is re-exported with value addition to address the inadequacy.
It is expedient; therefore, existing plantations have to be managed efficiently for increased productivity, and fresh plantations have to be established to increase production substantially.
Thus, new technology and management practices must be adopted to enhance the productivity of plantations. Cashew Corporation introduces new technology and management practices extensively.
In Sri Lanka, cashew is observed to thrive and flourish in significant ground stretches in the Dry and Intermediate Zones. Cashew cultivation is prominent in Puttalam, Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, Hambantota, and Batticaloa.
As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, removing the obstacles in increasing the productivity, enhancing the knowledge and skill of the farmers, and eliminating the hindrances in adopting technology in the industry, the quantity of cashew produced could be increased substantially.