Visakhapatnam: Over the years Andhra Pradesh and the neighbouring states have developed a taste for African cashew nuts giving a tough competition to local cashew varieties.
The import of cashew from African countries has been steadily going up. From here, after processing and adding value, the African cashew is also going to countries like US and some others in Europe and South East Asia.
In Andhra Pradesh, Palasa variety of Srika kulam and Vetapalem variety of Prakasam district cashews are famous for their rich taste.
Imports of African cashew nuts which started in 2007-08 at Vizag port was initially only 10,000 tonnes. This has gradually increased and in 2015-16, the imports at Vizag container terminal stood at close to 1 lakh tonne at Vizag port with around 5054 TEUs (20-feet equivalent units or containers).
This year already 2,000 containers of 20 tonne each had already been imported. AP occupied sixth rank in terms of number of units and third rank in the processing of cashew nuts in India. Cashew nuts from 36 African countries are being imported.
“Since two years, the cashew nut production in Andhra Pradesh has come down to just 25 per cent of the total cashew crop. Besides domestic consumption, we used to export the processed nuts to other countries. Now, we are importing the cashew nuts from African countries, processing them and exporting the cashew kernels to other countries and also to domestic market,” Palasa Cashew Manufacturers Association president Malla Srinivas Rao told this correspondent.
Andhra Pradesh has about 46,913 hectares of area under cashew cultivation with an annual production of 12,500 ton-nes of raw nuts. Srika-kulam, Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam and Nell-ore are important cashew growing districts in the state.
There are around 650 cashew processing units in Andhra Pradesh and among them 500 are located in Srikakulam district and the remaining located in different districts of the state. Palasa and surrounding areas include 450 processing units. Each unit processes 1-4 tonne a day in Srikaku-lam district, which is the major cashew processing centre in AP.
Mr Rao added that yield of some cashew nut varieties from Africa is more than 40 per cent against the 20 per cent of the local variety. The size and taste of African cashew from some countries are superior to that of the local variety.