CUDDALORE: As a result of poor monsoon and an increase in temperature, Cuddalore district has produced approximately 75 per cent less cashew yield this season. The farmers are demanding compensation.
Unlike paddy farmers, cashew farmers faced the heat only in March, when the flowers on trees began to wither in the heat.
Panruti is famous for delicious cashew nuts. Thousands of families are employed in its farming and its processing works. December and January are the flowering period, says Ramajayam, a farmer from Kadampuliyur.
“Though the flowers were not of high standards due to deficit monsoon rains, at least the flowers did bloom. Just as we were hoping that the flowers would develop into fruits, the high mercury levels played spoilsport. All the flowers had withered. When paddy farmers were demanding for drought-relief, the situation had not taken a turn for the worse for us. But now, the entire cashew plantation has not produced any yield,” he said.
Kathiravan, a farmer at Kotteri village, said that he had not even visited his land after seeing the withered flowers two months ago.
Sources said that only 25 per cent yield was obtained during this season from the total area of about 70,000 acres of cashew plantation in the district.
“Of the total 70,000 acres, nearly 68,000 acres are rainfed lands and remaining acres have irrigation facility. In the rainfed lands, the average yield obtained last year was 380 kg per acre but the yield obtained this year is 16 kg per acre. Similarly, in irrigated lands, the average yield obtained last year was 400 kg per acre but this year we just got 160 kg per acre. So there is a considerable shortfall in cashew yield in the district,” sources added.
Madhan Chand, who is into cashew business at Panruti, said that farmers suffered loss due to adverse climate conditions. “However, the cashew processing industry has not been affected much. As the cashew yield has been showing sign of deficit for the past five years since the Thane cyclone, all cashew processing units had shifted their focus on imported cashews. The processing units here, including the cottage industries, procure cashews from African countries and other countries, such as Indonesia,” Madhan added.
These processing industries here depend 90 per cent on imported cashews and only 10 per cent on cashews that are grown locally.