ONGOLE: The flourishing cashew industry in Vetapalem village is hit hard by the country’s economic slowdown. With the decline in sales, the production has come down to a great extent, pushing the industry to the brink of a financial crisis. The situation is so dire that factory owners and around 7,000 workers are uncertain about what the future holds for them.
The Prakasam village has 25 cashew units that serve 50 retail and wholesale shops. While the units directly employ around 7,000 workers, another 5,000 are indirectly dependent on them. While the average daily production by each unit is 250 kg, with the figure even doubling during festive occasions, it has fallen down to 150 kg even as speculations of recession setting in are rife. Several wholesalers have stopped buying from the cashew units as they say they don’t get many orders these days.
The daily total production, which earlier stood at 250 tonnes, by all the units across the State has slipped to 50 tonnes. Experts warn the industry may incur heavy losses if the government fails to come to its rescue immediately.
Meanwhile, many skilled workers, failing to find work in the cashew factories of Vetalapalem, have started migrating in search of other employment opportunities. The owner of one of the units, PVS Rao, explains the issues he has been facing: “Many workers of my factory have quit due to insufficient work. I appeal to the government to extend help by providing incentives and subsidy in power bills just like in some African countries.”
“Due to the high rupee-dollar exchange rate, prices of cashew seeds which are imported from Ghana, Tanzania, Ivory Coast and other African countries have increased enormously. This has put a lot of burden on the industry,” Grandhi Naga Anjaneyulu, secretary of the Coramandal Cashew Association tells TNIE.