The Tamil Nadu Cashew Processors and Exporters Association (TNCPEA) has urged Forest Minister K. Ramachandran to direct the Forest Department to phase out eucalyptus trees and plant cashew saplings on 44 hectares of land belonging to the Department, in Panruti, Cuddalore district.
In a memorandum addressed to the Minister, the secretary of the Association M. Ramakrishnan said the Department had commenced steps to plant eucalyptus trees on Forest land in Cuddalore district. Eucalyptus is a water-intensive species and guzzles much more water than native species like cashews.
Mr. Ramakrishnan said that cashew would be the ideal alternative to eucalyptus as the laterite, red and coastal sands in the district were suitable for its cultivation, and it would prove to be lucrative too.
“At present, cashew processors in Panruti have been importing raw cashew nuts from East and West Africa resulting in high import duty. Raising cashew saplings on Forest land can make the State self-sufficient in cashew production, he said, adding that cashew processors can directly procure the raw nuts from the Department. This would ensure good returns to both the Department and the State,” he said.
Cashew has been selected under the ‘one district one product’ (ODOP) approach of the Central government-sponsored scheme that is aimed at providing financial, technical, and business support for upgrading existing micro food processing enterprises in the district. Hence, the Forest Department should phase out eucalyptus and raise cashew saplings on its land to protect groundwater levels, he added.