Cashew processors seek govt subsidies for mechanization | SupportBiz

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Cashew processors seek govt subsidies for mechanization

In the wake of severe labour shortages, cashew processing units in India, the largest consumer of cashewnuts and a leading exporter of kernels, are being asked to mechanize to remain competitive in the global markets, according to a trade body.

Cashew processors should be able to tap government grants, to purchase new machinery, in 2013, according to The Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI).

CEPCI sent in a request to the Agriculture Ministry seeking financial assistance for modernization and mechanisation of India’s cashew processing industry, a year ago, said K. Sashi Verma, executive director, The Cashew Export Promotion Council of India. The ministry’s nod is expected later this calendar year, he said.

Funds will be disbursed through CEPCI. 25 percent of a processing unit’s expenditure on mechanization will be subsidized by the government. The subsidy is capped at Rs. 50 lakh for export oriented units, Verma said.

Some processing units have installed machines that shell, cut and grade cashew. “The technology needs a little fine-tuning,” Verma said.

A processing unit, which has installed new machines, can avail of government subsidies only after a thorough inspection of the facility by government inspectors.

CEPCI also wants processors to improving packaging standards, from traditional tin containers to flexi-vaccum packing.

206 processing units are CEPCI members at present. Membership, restricted to export oriented units up until now, will be extended to processors eyeing exports in the near term as well, Verma said.

Cashew has to be peeled, shelled and graded and the entire process is labour intensive. Second-generation labourers are moving out of the cashew industry and finding jobs in large shops and other establishments, said Verma.

Laborers are also making a shift to the government’s national job-guarantee scheme, NREGA, which doles out daily wages for work on small to midsize infrastructure projects, Verma said.

Cashew kernels are obtained after cashewnuts are processed, that is, after they are roasted or steamed, shelled and peeled.