New Delhi, Feb 12 (PTI) India’s exports of cashew kernels and allied products may fall 20 per cent to Rs 4,800 crore this fiscal due to lower volumes, industry body CEPCI said, while demanding higher incentives and hike in import duties on finished products to boost outward shipments.

Concerned over likely fall in exports, the Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI) Chairman R K Bhoodes said the import duty on cashew kernels (whole as well as split) should be increased to 70 per cent from present 45 per cent.

He also sought hike in minimum import price of cashew kernels to Rs 720 per kg (for whole) and Rs 680 per kg (split/broken) from the current Rs 400 per kg and Rs 288 per kg, respectively, in order to curb imports of around 10,000 tonne of finished products annually.

India exported 84,352 tonne of cashew kernels in 2017-18 as against 82,302 tonne during previous year. In value terms, exports went up almost 18 per cent to USD 911 million (around Rs 6,000 crore) from USD 770.65 million (around Rs 5,200 crore) during the same period, the association said.

“In the current fiscal, we estimate that exports will fall to around 60,000 tonne in volume terms and around Rs 4,800-5,000 crore in value terms. We need financial as well as policy support from the government to revive exports,” Bhoodes said.

The country produces around 3.5 lakh tonne of cashew kernels. The production and import of raw cashew is around 8 lakh tonne and 9 lakh tonne, respectively.

“The quality of Indian cashew kernels is better than other countries. But we are facing tough competition from Vietnam which is selling at about 10 per cent lesser price. Our cost of production is high, so there is no level playing field,” Bhoodes said.

CEPCI’s Vice Chairman Noordeen Abdul demanded that the government double the incentive under MEIS (Merchant Export from India Scheme) to 10 per cent.

Indian cashew industry exports different grades and products like cashew kernels (wholes and broken), cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL), cardanol (purified CNSL) and flavoured kernels.

Indian cashew kernels are well accepted and preferred world over for its quality, taste, tradition and commitment to supply, compared to other origins.

The country exports cashew kernels to about 80 countries, including the US, UAE, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Korea, Spain, France, UK, Kuwait, Singapore, Qatar, Greece, Italy, Iran and Canada.

The council is organising a global cashew summit in the national capital from February 13-15.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.