Cashew Development Board on the anvil: Minister

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Kochi, May 29 (UNI) The Union Agriculture and Commerce ministries have taken a decision in principle to set up a Cashew Development Board and the matter was now awaiting cabinet approval, Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said today.

Talking to newspersons on the sidelines of a function here, Mr Ramesh stressed the labour intensive nature of the cashew industry and said that it had the potential to employ nearly 25 lakh families.

With India being the largest importer, exporter and processor of cashew, besides the second largest consumer, it was necessary to have a board which would act as a ''catalyst'' for the growth of the sector right from cultivation to processing, packaging, value addition and exports, he said.

Regretting that cashew productivity in India had slipped to half of that in Africa and Vietnam, Mr Ramesh said the country was in danger of losing its eminence as a cashew exporter to Vietnam.

The minister said a tea promotion centre would start functioning in Cairo from August 15. This was being launched on a public-private partnership basis by the Tea Board and UPASI.

Stressing the need for the Spices Board to aggressively promote Indian spices, Mr Ramesh said the board should set up promotional centres in Dubai, Europe and Atlanta in the US to cover major markets.

In another boost to the plantations sector, it had been decided to treat plantation research laboratories on par with ICAR laboratories. This would help in improving the working conditions, salaries and promotional avenues of the plantation research laboratories, particularly in the coffee, rubber, tea and cardamom sectors.

The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had already agreed to this proposal and it would be brought before the cabinet soon, he added.

Stating that the experience with e-auction of cardamom had been very good, Mr Ramesh said pepper should also be brought under the ambit of e-auction on an experimental basis.

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