THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Think cashew and the crispy, crunchy kidney-shaped nut instantly springs to mind. Now, drink cashew. The state government is exploring the possibilities in deriving beverages - alcoholic and non-alcoholic - from the succulent cashew apple, which today is mostly discarded as waste. Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar told Express his department has launched a project to commercially exploit the pear-shaped, energy-rich cashew fruit by developing value-added products.
‘‘The Plantation Corporation of Kerala will helm the project and the technical know-how will be procured from Karnataka,’’ he said. Alcoholic drinks, a la Feni aside, the bouquet of products planned include, non-alcoholic beverages, as well as candies. ‘‘You can’t call it Feni since it’s exclusive to Goa. But you can produce so many other products like wines from this apple. But our thrust is not on alcoholic drinks. Health drinks and products like candies too are in the pipeline,’’ said Sunil Kumar. ‘‘Many technologies are available today for deriving products from cashew apple,’’ he said. According to him, the raw material is available aplenty in the state, especially in Kannur and Kasargod.
Though cashew-rich, the state has mostly focused on the commercial possibilities of the nut rather than fruit. Approximately 10,000 tonnes of cashew apple end up as waste in the Plantation Corporation farms alone, according to Sunil Kumar. The farms of the State Farming Corporation and the Agriculture Department too will chip in with the necessary raw material, he said.
Originally, it was the Cashew Industries Department, helmed by Minister J Mercykutty Amma, which had come up with the plan to milk the cashew apple for all its worth. After the Agriculture Department evinced interest in the project, the Cashew Industries Department stepped aside.
of cashew apple end up as waste in the Plantation Corporation farms alone, according to Sunil Kumar