Thursday 18 Jul 2024

50 per cent drop in Cashew production cause for concern

| MARCH 23, 2024, 12:56 AM IST

A 50 per cent drop in cashew production in the State this season comes as a rude shock for Goa, a crop which is synonymous with the State, one which is a major contributor to the rural economy. Director Agriculture Nevil Alphonso mentions that there is an average 50 per cent drop in flowering this season, with some areas reporting a higher percentage of over 60 per cent, and attributes this fall to the erratic climate pattern. Alphonso states that an inconsistent winter and the late rain showers of November have affected the flowering of cashews leading to a decline in the produce of the tree.

This comes as a big setback to the cashew industry which has been reeling lately due to inconsistent weather. The cashew industry has been steering the wheels of our rural economy, creating employment opportunities for thousands of people and supporting livelihoods, and in some measure, the crop could be one of the reasons that precious land has been saved from rampant destruction. It is sad, that the State remains a silent spectator as the industry takes a massive hit year on year.

The gloom over the cashew sector is very evident. While the flowering has witnessed a drastic fall, the local cashew nuts are not fetching the kind of revenue that they used to generate, cashew processing industries have shut down from 40 units some years back to 10 in current times, and Urrack and cashew feni production, the seasonal brew, has become unsustainable on account of the dwindling fruit and the low market value.

As per data from the Indian Council for Agriculture Research, over 55 thousand hectares are covered by cashew plantations and occupy the largest area among other horticulture crops. Sadly, cashew has not been given the status of a district crop.

Cashew producers have been in distress for quite some time and the steady drop over the years is only adding to the misery. For a government which swears by Swayampoorna, this has to be an area of immediate concern because the very principle of self-sufficiency and sustainability is under threat. Going by the current trend, cashew producers could find themselves out of business.

The Rs 40,000 per hectare compensation from the government under the Shetkari Adhar Nidhi scheme is welcome, but more has to be done to contain the downward spiral of production and mitigation measures must be brought in. The government boasts of an increased support price of Rs 150 per kg for cashew produce, but no one speaks of the hurdles and delays the farmer faces in availing of this support price.

The drop in production and the grim state of the industry are as clear as daylight. There have been warning signals of the changing weather patterns, signals that concretisation is badly hitting the State. These are indicators that the State needs to adopt aforestation and promote greenery instead of wholesale development.

Climate change will pose problems for cashew cultivation and it will impact flowering which in turn hits the entire industry. The government must smell the coffee and initiate mitigation measures before climate-sensitive crops vanish from the face of the motherland.

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