KOLLAM: The import of cashew kernels, allegedly utilising loopholes in free trade agreement (FTA), has adversely affected small scale cashew processors in the state.
The big fish are taking advantage of export sops from various countries to import kernels that affects domestic prices. It is adverse for the indigenous industry in the long run.
“Several cashew owners import processed cashew under various heads like cashew pieces, animal feed, agricultural rejects cashew, rejected cashew kernel pieces violating norms. The cashew is shipped to ports like Thoothukudi, Kochi, and Visakhapatanam,” said I. Nisamudeen, president, federation of cashew processors and exporters.
The roasted cashew has a low import duty and hence unprocessed kernels are dubbed as roasted cashew by these importers, it is alleged. The semi-finished goods will be reworked at processing centres in the state after filing customs declaration under the guise of exporting the processed cashew, swindling export incentives. The broken kernels are sold in India while reprocessed cashew is exported to Europ and US markets.
This malpractice has adversely hit the traditional cashew industry as their market prices fall due to flooding of processed imports. The small scale processors demand blacklisting of such fraudulent firms apart from imposing 100 per cent import duty. The processors allege monitoring authorities are indifferent by letting violators go scot free.
Meanwhile, the Cashew exports promotion council of India (CEPCI) has maintained it is closely following it up with the highest authorities including CBI, DRI, and CBIC to curb this unhealthy practice and could sample from selected such import consignments for testing at CEPCI laboratory. It also proposed mandatory sampling of all imports of cashew kernel before clearance by the customs and restricting their import.