Goa's famous cashew to get official boost as agro-industry

| 14 June 1996 10:49 IST

The Goa government, almost after 35 years of its liberation from the Portuguese rulers, has decided to give top priority to cashew development in the state. It is planning to spend Rs 35 crore on a multi-dimensional programme, in order to develop it as Goa's top agro-based industry.

The cashew seeds believed to have been brought by the Portuguese imperialists to India, especially in the Konkan belt. Despite it being Goa's biggest crop till date, no development programme was chalked out by the local authorities to develop it further in terms of high quality yield or its by-products, unlike the Maharashtra government. On the contrary, the mining industry destroyed the cashew plantation in the mining belt while even Goa's famous caju feni is still distilled in a conventional method.

The cashew development programme is now announced by the state government, with a plan to cover 20,000 hectares of land, belonging to village-level communidades, churches, Hindu temples as well as private owners, with high-quality Vengurla grafts invented by the Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Dapoli. The five-year programme worth Rs 35 crore, beginning from this month, would be financially assisted by the central government while Goa's contribution would be only Rs nine crore, in terms of subsidies.

Addressing a press conference, state agriculture minister Dayanand Narvekar said the cashew yield, with this programme, is expected to double from the fourth year while it would increase in four folds in a decade. Productivity of Goan cashew is considered to be very low, only 1.6 kg per tree annually, which is expected to increase to 8 to 10 kgs per tree by 2005. This would also mean that the present production of 13,200 MT would go up to 52,000 MT by 2005, he said.

Narvekar admitted that housing activity spreading around all the towns in the state is severely affecting the cashew production, but no plans have been made to arrest it. The mining industry, he said, however has been requested to take up cashew plantation under its afforestation plans of the abandoned mining dumps. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), in collaboration with the state agriculture department, has taken up afforestation of around 3000 hectares of area covered by mining dumps, spending around $ 20,000.

The FAO as well as UNIDO are also assisting the state government in identifying around 10 new technologies for high-value cashew by-products, in order to develop cashew as Goa's prime agro-based industry. Goa is presently accruing a revenue of Rs 45 crore on cashew nuts and around Rs 10 crore on cashew liquor - the feni. But it is fairly badly in exporting these famous by-products, Narvekar said.

In order to strengthen the management structure and funding for the manufacture of the existing and new by -products, the agriculture minister said the Goa state mission for cashew development is also being launched, forming a special cell under the Horticulture Corporation headed by the chief secretary. It would basically establish linkages between cashew growers, land owners, processing units, financial institutions and entrepreneurs, he added.

The government would also launch a similar programme for coconut plantation by August, Narvekar informed the journalists.

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