Huge volumes of unprocessed nut piling up in units
Cashew factories, both in public and private sectors, are bracing for huge losses as the pandemic-induced lockdown has resulted in huge volumes of unprocessed nut piling up and most of the stock are ready for grading after shelling and peeling.
Some relief has come with the authorities giving permission to resume operations strictly adhering to COVID protocol.
Since restrictions to contain the second wave of the pandemic hit the industry at a very critical time, many units are finding it difficult to complete processing and shift the stock to godowns.
While the government-run factories under the Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation and Capex currently have tonnes of unprocessed material, many of the private processors too face the same problem.
“We have approached Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for the permission to complete processing and transporting the stock. We needed to activate the sector at the earliest and so that both public and private units can function,” said KSCDC chairman S.Jaymohan.
However, the private the sector is not too hopeful of getting permission as many units are located in local bodies currently under triple lockdown. “Though cashew is a perishable good and we are an export-oriented industry, most of the factories are not functioning because of the lockdown. We have factories and labourers in containment zones and the local body authorities will not allow us to function,” says Nizamudeen I., president, Federation of Cashew Processors and Exporters.
According to the processors, continuing rains also pose a major challenge as chances are high for moisture damage and mold infestation.
“We faced a similar situation during the earlier lockdown as well. But this time we thought we can reopen after seven days and complete the processing. There is a time limit for holding the stock midway into processing and even a single day can make a difference,” says a processor.
For the past several months, the sector has been striving hard to come out of the pandemic blues. Though most of the units now have the RCN required for the season, they have been finding it hard to ship the orders due to the lockdown.
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