Tuesday, March 17, 2015

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Palasa cashew processing capacity doubles

  • Tuesday, March 17, 2015
  • Thùy Miên
  • Cashew processing capacity at Palasa in Srikakulam district, has more than doubled over the last three years on the back new plants and mechanisation of the existing ones.
    As of now, there are 250 units operating in Palasa and Kasibugga from around 210 processing units some three years ago. Besides, about 65 per cent of the existing units had become fully automated leading to an increase in the capacity, said Malla Srinivasa Rao, president, Palasa Cashew Manufacturers Association.
    clip_image001The processing capacity has increased to 500-550 tonne a day from about 250 tonne three years ago, he added. Each unit has seen an investment of Rs 15-20 lakh in mechanisation. For instance, a labour used to process 10 kg nuts in 8 hours earlier, but post mechanisation, about 100 kg nuts could be processed in just one hour. The news ones are small and medium scale units, he said.
    Meanwhile, the Palasa Cashew Manufacturers Association has decided to stop processing operations from April 1 as the labourers are demanding a wage hike, Rao said.
    According to him, in April last year, the wage was increased 32 per cent for women workers and 20 per cent for men. Of the total 10,000 direct employees in the Palasa cashew industry around 90 per cent comprises women workers and they get around Rs 300 a day. “The workers are now demanding a 75 per cent hike for the next two years. This is not agreeable to our association, hence we have decided to close the units from April 1 till the new wages are finalised,” he added.

    - business-standard.com

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    Monday, March 16, 2015

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    MP promises boost to cashew sector

  • Monday, March 16, 2015
  • Thùy Miên
  • Dakshina Kannada Member of Parliament Nalin Kumar Kateel on Sunday said he was aware of the problems being faced by the cashew industry and promised to render “all possible help”.

    Speaking after inaugurating the platinum jubilee celebrations of Karnataka Cashew Manufacturers’ Association here, Mr. Kateel urged the association office bearers to visit New Delhi for discussions with the Ministries concerned.

    clip_image001He said reduction in cashew production, which is a good source of foreign exchange to the country, was a matter of concern and all should work towards addressing problems being faced by the industry.

    Association president B. Rahul Kamath urged the government to give priority to value addition to cashew apple to encourage cultivation of cashew nut trees. Platinum Jubilee celebration committee chairman Walter D’Souza submitted a memorandum to MLC Ivan D’Souza urging the government to come out with a Cashew Policy to promote the cultivation of the crop.

    The association would distribute more than 60,000 cashew saplings to farmers across the State before June 23 to encourage cultivation, Mr. D’Souza said.

    - The Hindu

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    ‘Promote use of cashew apple’

  • Thùy Miên
  • 4 lakh tonnes of the fruit being wasted in a year in State

    Cashew manufacturers on Saturday sought the State government’s help for farmers to make use of cashew apple that is being wasted in a large quantity.

    At the inauguration of platinum jubilee of the Karnataka Cashew Manufacturers Association (KCMA) here, president of the celebration committee Walter D’Souza urged Minister for Health U.T. Khader to ensure that farmers growing cashew realised the commercial value of the apple.

    clip_image001Recently, KCMA said that about 4 lakh tonnes of cashew apple was being wasted in a year in Karnataka and the association had decided to focus on ensuring that the pulp containing nutrients is put to good use. It suggests that its vast potential could be harnessed in multiple ways such as making juice out of it – a project that can be given to self help groups – and growers who lacked knowledge about this need to be educated.

    Reflecting on the “sparkling history” of KSMA, Mr. D’Souza said the cashew industry employed 50,000 people, mostly women, and the turnover had gone from Rs. 12 crore in 1955 to Rs. 2,400 crore now – a 200-times growth. The exports had grown 100 times from Rs. 8 crore in 1955 to Rs. 800 crore now.

    The industry, which used to rely on manual processes of breaking the nuts, had fully mechanised it. He said the KCMA would show that cashew could be affordable to the middle class.

    Mr. Khader urged the KCMA to convince people about its stated health benefits and promote it on the lines of the promotions for egg as a healthy product. The Minister said the government would stand by the association.

    - The Hindu

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    Wednesday, March 11, 2015

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    Cashew farmers seek relief

  • Wednesday, March 11, 2015
  • Thùy Miên
  • Cadre of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) staged a demonstration in front of the Revenue Divisional Office at Udayarpalayam on Tuesday demanding compensation for cashew farmers who have been affected by drought-like conditions.

    clip_image001

    S. S. Sivasankar, Kunnam MLA and district secretary of DMK, V.K.Rajendran, Convenor, party’s farmers wing of the district, and N.R.Ramadorai, convenor of the party’s farm labourers wing, participated in the agitation.

    Mr. Sivasankar said that cashew farmers have been affected due to drought-like condition. Though relief has been given to other crops like groundnut, cashew farmers have been left out. He said that a cashew farmer of Irumbulikurichi had committed suicide last year unable to bear debt burden.

    Cashew is a major crop raised in Ariyalur district in Andimandam, Senthurai and Jayamkondam blocks and parts of Tha.Pazhur. Normally, farmers harvest five to nine bags (80 kg) an acre as yield. One kg of cashew nut costs Rs. 500 a kg. Cashew nut along with the shell costs Rs. 105 a kg. But farmers have not been able make a good harvest for the past three years. “Trees did not even bloom due to the drought,” he added.

    The Hindu

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    Tuesday, March 10, 2015

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    Raw cashew nut prices hit all-time high by crossing Rs 100 per kg mark

  • Tuesday, March 10, 2015
  • Thùy Miên
  • Cashew farmers are all smiles as raw nut prices have touched Rs 102 a kg in select markets of Goa and Kerala. Traders say this is the highest ever season opening price in the history of the trade.
    Around the same time last year, raw cashew nut prices had touched Rs 95 a kg and then dropped to Rs 83 a kg. The trigger for the steep spike in prices this year is short supply. In Kerala, farm gate prices are between Rs 94 and Rs 97 a kg.
    “Normally, prices will be high at the beginning of the season and decline as harvesting progresses. This year, it is unlikely to see a big fall as there is a shortage of material even in Tanzania and West African markets,” said G Giridhar Prabhu, a Mangaluru-based exporter and former vice-chairman of the Cashew Export Promotion Council of India.

    clip_image001ON A HIGH

    • This is the highest ever season opening price in the history of cashew nut trade in India
    • Around the same time last year, raw cashew nut prices had touched Rs 95 a kg and then dropped to Rs 83 a kg
    • The trigger for the steep spike in prices this year is the short supply of nuts
    • India imports around 750,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts every year to meet the requirements of processing units
    • Domestic production varies between 400,000 and 550,000 tonnes
    • India exports around 120,000 tonnes of cashew kernels annually
    • Last week’s unseasonal rains in many growing regions would benefit the crop in the form of better growth

    The landed price of nuts from Tanzania was Rs 92 a kg this year. The crop in Tanzania was less this year, resulting in higher price for Indian importers. According to Prabhu, prices are expected to go down by at least Rs 10 a kg.
    India imports around 750,000 tonnes of raw nuts every year to meet the requirements of processing units. Domestic production varies between 400,000 and 550,000 tonnes. India exports around 120,000 tonnes of cashew kernels annually.
    According to Prabhu, last year’s prolonged monsoon rains, which lasted till November in many growing regions of the west coast, have delayed crop harvesting. He added the flowering as well as fruit setting in cashew orchards was delayed because of the rains and, as a result, the harvesting was yet to start in many areas. Delayed by a month, harvesting is likely to begin in April across Karnataka, Maharashtra and parts of Goa.
    However, last week’s unseasonal rains in many growing regions would benefit the crop.
    “The shortage of raw material is a huge problem for processing units this year because the 2014 crop is exhausted. In the past four years, the carry-over stock was left unprocessed. This year, however, due to expansion of processing units and lower crop, the industry is likely to face shortage,” Prabhu said.
    He said raw nut prices have doubled in the past seven to eight years, compared to Rs 45-50 a kg in 2007-08. “In fact, prices have grown 100 times in the past 42 years. In 1972, raw cashew nut was sold at Rs 102 a quintal by farmers,” Prabhu recalled.
    As a result of the rise in raw nut prices, the processed cashew nut (kernel) prices in the retail market are currently Rs 800-1,000 a kg in super markets.

    - Business Standard

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    Benin: The gov’t fixed the price of Cashew to FCFA 225 /Kg

  • Thùy Miên
  • The government of Benin has decided this week to increase the price of cashew in the country to FCFA 225/Kg for the 2014/2015 campaign against   FCFA 200 in 2013/2014.

    According to an official of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and SMEs who requested anonymity but quoted by Xinhua news agency, this trend reflects the growing importance of cashew in agriculture in Benin. “This speculation which agricultural production area covers six of the twelve districts of the country is becoming increasingly important as socio-economically and environmentally.” He told Xinhua, before illustrating his point with statistics.

    clip_image001According to a study by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Benin, raw cashew nut exports of Benin on the international market, especially in China, Indonesia, Vietnam and the European Union have evolved in recent years, going from 19,174 tons in 1997 to 69,357 tons in 2006.

    “This increase in the penetration of Beninese cashew in the international market, coupled with an improved margin of farmers and other stakeholders showed cashew as a strategic product whose development prospects are promising,” reveals the study.

    According to the Chief of Staff of the Benin Minister of Agriculture, despite this favorable situation of the moment, the trend in the medium term self-sufficiency in Asian countries should guide national policy to a sustained increase in local processing.

    Thus, the area under cultivation has increased from 165,000 ha to 191,000 ha between 1998 and 2007. For the current campaign, the country expects to produce about 120,000 tons.

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    Monday, March 9, 2015

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    Cashew nut prices hit century mark

  • Monday, March 9, 2015
  • Thùy Miên
  • PANAJI: This season's first produce of cashew nuts has hit a morale-boosting century mark, with prices scaling a new milestone at Rs102-105 per kilo. It's an over 100% rise in prices from just seven years ago when a kilo drew Rs48-50.
    It's not just the unique flavour of Goa's cashew nuts that are attracting the pricing. "More and more people are savouring the cholesterol-free and nutrient-rich product, as it has been belatedly realized, especially if it is consumed in raw form as white kernel," said A S Kamath, adviser, Goa Cashew Processors Association.
    clip_image001Though the prices are expected to stabilize later in the season as the availability of raw material improves with more supplies, even the kernel or the processed nut has shown a significant rise from Rs450-500 per kilo in 2014 to Rs500-600 per kilo this season.

    The prices have been growing steadily from Rs45-50 in 2008 to Rs50-55 in 2009, Rs62-65 in 2010, and Rs85-90 in 2011. While there was a dip to Rs70-75 in 2012, the rise continued to Rs90-95 in 2014.
    The unseasonal rain is being considered by local growers to be a blessing. The showers will boost the crop, though the flowering is likely to be delayed, said sources.
    Madhav Sahakari, president, Goa Cashew Manufacturers Association, told TOI, "The prospect of a better crop this year compared to the poorer crop globally last year appears to be good at this stage."
    The decline in crop is also a reason for the spike in prices. Despite Goa's modest production of about 20,000 tonnes of cashew nuts per annum, the state's cashew farmers find themselves reaping the benefit of rising prices.
    "In 2008, USA was the biggest consumer of cashew nuts, but domestic consumption has doubled and India is presently the largest consumer," said Kamath.
    While India is the largest producer and processor, Vietnam has carved a niche for itself as the largest exporter. This is attributed to the marginal domestic consumption, and the produce ends up being bulkily exported, said sources.
    Goan cashew nuts are known for their taste and quality, as farmers gather only mature ones after they fall to the ground. Local farmers consider the cashew crop as one of the most rewarding agricultural activities. "Minimal care is required and the crop grows in areas where nothing much else grows," said Kamath.
    But despite the support price provided by the state government, the state's production has been stagnating for a few years. Maharashtra is considered the model state encouraging cashew production and processing through various incentives. The industry taps locally available raw material and provides employment opportunities at the rural level.
    "One bag of raw cashew nuts can offer employment to three to four persons per day," said Kamath.

    - India Times

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    0

    Cashew body festival to focus on farmer empowerment

  • Thùy Miên
  • MANGALURU, MARCH 4: 

    Focus on the empowerment of cashew growers will be part of the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Karnataka Cashew Manufacturers’ Association (KCMA). The year-long event will begin with a two-day event in Mangaluru on Mach 14.

    clip_image001A press release by KCMA said here on Wednesday that the event will showcase the strength of the industry and unveil the vision for the next 15 years. Apart from empowering raw cashewnut growers, the cashew industry will make efforts to arrest the colossal waste of the cashew apple and make the raw cashewnut production much more remunerative for the farmers. KCMA will also evolve a sustainable mechanism to assure farmers a minimum guaranteed price for their produce.

    A press release said that the event will create more awareness about the health and nutritional benefits of cashew. The event will make efforts to attract the attention of the Union and state governments and decision makers about the immense potential of the industry.

    It said the diamond jubilee celebrations will start with a national convention on cashew and a machinery exhibition on March 14.  Experts will present technical papers on various aspects of the industry such as production, processing, promotion, marketing, automation etc. KCMA will unfold all its plans and projects during the diamond jubilee year on March 15. KCMA has over 400 cashew processors in nine districts of Karnataka.

    The release said that collectively cashew industry has given direct employment to over 50,000 people, and 95 per cent of them are women belonging to the weaker sections of society.

    In terms of volume of business, cashew industry has grown from an aggregate of ₹50 crore to over ₹2,000 crore per annum in the last three decades. In terms of export earnings to the national exchequer, the industry has registered a jump from about ₹30 crore to over ₹800 crore per annum in the three decades, it added.

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    Cashew fest from March 14

  • Thùy Miên
  • Amid hopes of making Karnataka the cashew State of India, the diamond jubilee of Karnataka Cashew Manufacturers Association will be celebrated in the city with a technical session, a cashew festival and technical exhibition, on March 14 and 15 at the T.M.A. Pai Convention Centre.

    Office-bearers of the association told presspersons here on Wednesday that Karnataka occupied a place of pride in the country, having registered a good growth with nine districts having more than 400 cashew processors. In contrast, the industry had witnessed a drastic fall in Kerala.

    clip_image001Growth

    The industry as whole, however, has grown in terms of a turnover from Rs. 50 crore three decades ago to Rs. 2,000 crore now. Export earnings have gone up from Rs. 30 crore to Rs. 800 crore. From here it needs to grow to Rs. 8,000 crore in a short span, to follow the example of Mozambique. A focus area now was addressing the colossal waste of cashew apple (about 4 lakh tonnes a year in Karnataka), which contained nutrients. Its vast potential could be harnessed in multiple ways by self help groups and growers but they lacked knowledge on the processes. The association aims to support such efforts, and the tech show would display how this could be done. They said cashew was wrongly perceived to be unhealthy in terms contribution to cholesterol but it was a myth and the forthcoming event would highlight this.

    As part of the diamond jubilee of Karnataka Cashew Manufacturers Association, a Cashew Festival will be held on March 15, in which women and hotel management school students aged above 18 may compete in making cashew-based dishes.

    Students can send an essay with the name of school and parent on health benefits of cashew nuts to kajufest@gmail.com by March 10 to win prizes from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 15,000. It will be open to public from 4 p.m.

    - The Hindu

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    Saturday, February 28, 2015

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    Cashew exporters to go ahead with shutdown

  • Saturday, February 28, 2015
  • Thùy Miên
  • The Kerala Cashew Processors and Exporters Association has said that the decision to keep cashew factories closed for three days from March 2 in protest against the “unbearable wage hike” coming into effect from March 1 will not be revoked.

    CashewIn a statement here on Friday, association secretary K.M. Nazar said that the 35 per cent wage hike declared was unjustified as it was notified bypassing all mandatory norms.

    “Still the demand from a section of the trade union leaders that the employers should compensate the workers for denial of work for three days owing to the strike may sound logic. But these leaders should not forget the fact that they too had denied work to the workers on various occasions through hartals declared on political grounds,” he said.

    Mr. Nazar said that if the trade unions were prepared to compensate the workers for that loss, the cashew sector employers would only be too happy to compensate the cashew workers for work lost during the three-day strike. The trade unions should act as a model and then ask others to follow suit. The strike had been declared since there was no other go. He said that the cashew industry was a means of livelihood not only to the cashew workers but also for the employers too. But trade union militancy was converting cashew processing an economically unviable activity in Kerala, Mr. Nazar said.

    - The Hindu

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    1

    Easy cashew chicken fried rice recipe

  • Thùy Miên
  • If you are in the mood for Asian, this easy cashew chicken fried rice is the perfect recipe to satisfy your craving. Inspired by restaurant-style fried rice, this dish is packed with chicken, pineapple, red pepper, peas and toasted cashews. This one pot meal is all you need instead of turning to take-out.
    4337UWM_22694_AHCknFrdR_V1.tifIngredients:
    1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into cubes 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided 2 eggs, beaten with a dash of soy sauce 1 1/2 cups cubed fresh or canned pineapple 1 large red bell pepper, diced 1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted 3 green onions, green and white parts, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, finely minced 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger 1/2 cup chopped raw, unsalted cashews 2 cups cooked and chilled rice, white or brown 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce 1 to 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce 1 small lime, juiced 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

    Directions:
    Step 1: Marinate chicken in 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and freshly ground black pepper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
    Step 2: Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until the chicken is no longer pink, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
    Step 3: In the same pan, add a teaspoon of oil and gently scramble the eggs. Scoop the eggs into a bowl and set aside.
    Step 4: Add one tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the pineapple and red pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the pineapple is caramelized on the edges and the red pepper has softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the green onion, peas, ginger and garlic. Cook, while stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds or longer. Transfer the contents of the pan to your bowl of eggs.
    Step 5: Add the remaining two teaspoons of oil to the pan. Pour in the cashews and toast them, stirring constantly, until the cashews smell fragrant and have turned golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add the rice to the pan and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is hot, about 3 minutes.
    Step 6: Pour the cooked vegetables and eggs back into the pan with the rice and stir to combine. Season with soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
    By: Leah Rodrigues
    Recipe courtesy: foodista.com

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    0

    VEGAN GNOCCHI WITH THYME VINAIGRETTE AND CASHEW CREAM

  • Thùy Miên
  • clip_image001SERVES

    2-3

    INGREDIENTS

    For Gnocchi:

    • 2 russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
    • 1 Cup bread flour

    For Thyme Vinaigrette:

    • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, leaves only
    • 1-2 pinches salt, to taste
    • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar

    For Lemon Cashew Cream:

    • 1 cup water
    • 1 1/4 cups cashews
    • Zest of 1 lemon
    • 1/2-1 tsp. lemon juice
    PREPARATION

    For Thyme Vinaigrette:

    1. Strip the thyme leaves off their stems into a mortar. Add a pinch or two of salt and grind with the pestle until a rough paste is formed.
    2. Add oil and vinegar and mix again. Don’t worry if it’s emulsified, it just needs to be mixed. Taste and adjust salt or vinegar as needed. Set aside.

    For Lemon Cashew Sauce:

    1. Place all the ingredients for the cashew cream in a blender and blend on high until thick and smooth. Adjust seasoning if needed.

    For the Gnocchi:

    1. Boil potatoes till soft.
    2. Peel potatoes and let cool for 10-15 min.
    3. Push potatoes through ricer or food mill and form a mound on your workstation.
    4. Adding flour ½ cup at a time knead dough till ball forms.
    5. Shape the dough into long ½ inch thick ropes.
    6. Using a bench scraper, cut each rope into ½ inch pieces.
    7. For final shaping, roll each piece pressing slightly across a fork to form rough surface on top and slight concave underneath.
    8. Drop each piece into simmering water and cook until 30 seconds after they float to the top.
    9. Toss lightly with vinaigrette.
    10. Plate and drizzle with Cashew Sauce.
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    0

    Change in rule at ICTT benefits cashew sector

  • Thùy Miên
  • The cashew industry here has welcomed the decision of the authorities of the Vallarpadam International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) to restore the on-wheel customs clearance facility for raw cashew imports. K.N. Raghavan, Commissioner of Customs at Kochi, formally notified the decision on February 24.

    clip_image001Through the facility, the raw cashew importer can now load the container from the ICTT yard and subject it to Customs clearance there itself, without shifting it to a privately operated container freight station (CFS) yard nearby for Customs checking.

    The decision comes in the wake of a delegation from the Cashew Processors and Exporters Association holding talks with the Cochin Port, ICTT, and Customs authorities earlier this month.

    Association president A.M. Salahudeen said that restoration of the facility would cut costs by over Rs.9 crore annually for the industry.

    Economic importance

    Given the economic and social importance of raw cashew imports by way of providing employment to women and also as a major foreign exchange earner, the commodity had enjoyed on-wheel customs clearance facility at ICTT. But in October last year, the facility was withdrawn.

    This resulted in all raw cashew import containers arriving at ICTT mandatorily being shifted the CFS yard for Customs clearance.

    For the new arrangement, each container was charged Rs.5,000 — the breakup being Rs.2,000 for container transportation charge, Rs.2,000 for loading and unloading, and Rs.1,000 as administrative charges.

    Each year more than 3 lakh tonnes of raw cashew are imported through the ICTT annually and that means 16,000 containers.

    Mr. Salahudeen said that with the on-wheel customs clearance facility being restored the fee charged has come down to Rs.618 per container.

    During talks, the ICTT authorities also agreed to resume operation of the weighbridge inside the terminal complex.


  • Earlier it used to be moved out for Customs nod

  • Fee per container down to Rs.618 from Rs.5,000


  • - The Hindu

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    0

    Nigeria: Cashew Growers Sign N1 Billion Export Deal

  • Thùy Miên
  • The National Cashew Association of Nigeria said on Wednesday that it had signed a N1 billion deal with shipping companies in Nigeria to export cashew nuts.

    The national spokesperson of the association, Sotonye Anga, disclosed this in an interview in Lagos.

    clip_image001He explained that the deal was sealed at a meeting with cashew exporters, shipping companies and forwarding agents.

    He said cashew exporters will export 6,700 containers of cashew nuts to Vietnam, India and other Asian countries this year.

    "We are pleased with the outcome of the cashew logistics meeting, held on Saturday the February 20 with stakeholders.

    "We are giving shipping companies more than 6,700 container loads of cashew nuts for shipment to India, Vietnam, and other Asian countries.

    "This translates to $5 million (N1 billion) worth of business which is about One billion naira as our industry wide cost of shipment. In return, we demand from them the best of service.

    "We want the best in terms of care in handling our cashew shipments, shorter delivery and transit time at a pocket friendly rate.

    "We insist on global best practice for cashew handling and so we will work closely with the shipping companies to come up with an industry friendly programme for cashew exports from Nigeria," Mr. Anga said.

    He said that the containers that would convey the cashew nuts would be dressed with double corrugated craft paper.

    "Henceforth all 40ft containers carrying cashew nuts from Nigeria will load 26.5 metric tons of cashews.

    "They must also carry appropriate number of quality desiccants to absorb moisture and to help us preserve the quality of cashew during transit," he said.

    Some of the shippers represented at the meeting included, PIL Ltd, CMA DELMAS and MAERSK LINE among others.

    They pledged their full support and advised cashew exporters to fill indemnity forms whenever they use import containers for export.

    (NAN)

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    0

    Cashew processors plan token stir

  • Thùy Miên
  • ‘Wage hike for workers notified bypassing all mandatory norms’

    If declaring wage-related strikes in the cashew sector used to be the monopoly of trade unions, the tables have now turned. Employers under the banner of Cashew Processors and Exporters Association have now declared a three-day strike in the sector from March 2.

    Secretary of the association K.M. Nazar said the strike was in protest against the allegedly arbitrary manner in which the State government had notified the latest wage hike for cashew workers ‘‘which the industry is unable to bear.’’ He said the wage hike was notified bypassing all mandatory norms.

    clip_image001In the past, cashew sector employers were wary of keeping their factories closed because the government was vested with powers under the Kerala Cashew Factories Acquisition (Amendment) Act to take over such factories. But a Supreme Court order earlier this month had termed relevant sections of the Act unconstitutional.

    The association leaders alleged that the government had succumbed to trade union militancy following which the Industrial Relations Committee (IRC) had taken the decision to hike the wages. But as per norms, the IRC decision has to be first notified for hearing objections and then placed before the Minimum Wages Advisory Committee.

    The government could formally notify the revised wages only as per the recommendations of that committee. But all those mandatory formalities were bypassed and the government arbitrarily declared a 35 per cent wage hike. He said the employers were not in anyway against a justified wage hike.

    The association alleged vote-bank politics on the part of the trade unions as the motive behind such a wage hike. The hike would make cashew processed in Kerala highly uncompetitive in the international markets. Cashew was being processed in various States, and in Vietnam too where the processing rates were affordable to the industry. All competed in the same international kernel markets.

    The association leaders called upon the State government to freeze the wage hike and conduct a scientific study into the realities of the sector viv-a-vis the competitors and then decide on the wage hike. The three-day strike declared was a token strike. If the government failed to consider the demands, the association would be forced to declare an indefinite strike, Mr. Nazar said.

    - The Hindu

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