With laterite soil, humid weather and annual rainfall of up to 900 mm, Bidar is well suited to grow cashew, according to experts.
“Farmers in Bidar need not worry about growing cashew. They can throw seeds in mounds of degraded soil and come back a few years later to harvest the crop. It is that easy,” says S.B. Dandin, Vice-Chancellor, University of Horticultural Sciences, Bagalkot.
This “hassle-free” crop is hardy and does not need irrigation, Mr. Dandin says. Besides, it is not sensitive to pests and diseases.
“With the society getting increasingly nutrition conscious, the demand for snack food crops, such as cashew, is growing,” he adds.
Cashew also has high export potential, says pomologist Suryakant Biradar of the College of Horticulture, Bidar.
“The price of cashew nut has been growing over the last year; at one time, it was comparable to almonds,” he says.
As many as 189 hectares in Bidar district are under cashew cultivation, with an average annual production of 284 tonnes of raw nuts.
However, productivity is less than the State average, as most trees were planted as part of afforestation efforts in public land and not in orchards. The varieties selected were not high yielding and farmers do not prune or dress trees to hasten growth and increase yield. Farmers can be trained in these skills, Dr. Biradar says.
“Apart from research and training, we plan to impart need-based and skill training to farmers and in-service field-level extension workers, and vocational training to unemployed youth,” says V.C. Kanamadi, Dean of the College of Horticulture, Bidar. The college has been organising workshops for horticulture farmers and food processing training for women.