Vijayawada :From labor shortage to drop in sales, the cashew industry is staring at huge losses in Andhra Pradesh. Cashew processing units located in Palasa Industrial Estatein Srikakulam district have been facing acute manpower shortage due to the lockdown. Due to COVID 19, workers are not attending to the duties fearing infection.
Though the cashew processing units have been operating till evening hours, they are not running to their full capacity due to the shortage of labor. President of Industrial Estate, Palasa, Malla Rameswara Rao said there are over 300 cashew processing units in the Srikakulam district of North Andhra Pradesh.
"All the units in the district together used to produce around 60,000 kgs of cashew kernels per day. However, due to shortage of labor, the production has dropped by 70 percent as only 10 to 20 percent of the total workers are attending to the duties," he said.
Industrialists fear that the units may shut down after May 16 as the workers have threatened to boycott work demanding a hike in wages. As per the tradition, the owners used to increase the wages once in two years. This time, however, the owners are not in a position to hike their salaries due to the business losses.
Cashew is grown in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, the upland area of East & West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam, Nellore (Kavali), districts of Coastal Zone and Chittoor (Satyavedu) district of Rayalaseema zone in Andhra Pradesh in an area of about 1.26 lakh hectares with a production of one lakh metric tonnes.
Pandemic has also cast shadows over procurement of raw- cashew nuts in the state. Cashew growers in the Srikakulam district supplied only 30 percent of the total requirement of the units.
Owners said they have been importing the raw cashew from African countries at high prices to operate the units. Restrictions in the parts of North India have also affected the export of cashew from Srikakulam.
The area under cashew crop in Andhra Pradesh is 1,15,785 hectares
AP has 400 cashew processing units with the capacity of 79,140 MT
The average productivity in AP is 773 kg/Hectare
Palasa in Srikakulam is one of the Cashew Processing Clusters in the country.
India exports cashew kernels to more than 60 countries mainly to the USA, UAE, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and Japan.
Over 50,000 women are employed in AP's cashew processing units
The cashew traders imports raw-material from African countries at a cost of Rs 11,000 to Rs 12,000 per 80 kg bag
The price of the best quality cashew nuts has dropped to Rs750 per kg from Rs1,000 per kg in the market due to a decline in demand.
Traders say that they incurred loss ranging from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 50 lakh due to Covid-19 pandemic