Going nuts! Scientists in Karnataka develop hybrid variety of cashews that could boost farmers’ income

The agricultural sector, pandemic or not, faces a host of hardships. From rainfall €” either too much or too little of it €” to the rise in transportation costs, farmers have to deal with these issues all the time.

However, there is some good news for cashew farmers. The Directorate of Cashew Research (DCR), which is under Indian Council of Agricultural Research, at Puttur in Dakshina Kannada district has released a new jumbo hybrid cashew €” ‘Nethra Jumbo-1’.

Nethra Jumbo-1

Several varieties of cashews are grown in the coastal region of Karnataka. The largest and finest varieties are exported to various countries. Nethra Jumbo-1, the newest variety, is said to ease the burden off growers and fill their pockets sooner.

Principal Scientist of the directorate Dr J Dinakara Adiga says 90 cashews nuts of this variety makes a kilogram while other breeds need 160 nuts to reach a kilo. This reduces the amount of labour for harvest and processing to half.

“The new variety can save around Rs 16,000 a ton on labour cost and fetch a premium of Rs 10,000 for bigger size of nut yield. Hence, farmers can earn an additional revenue of Rs 26,000 for every tonne of cashew cultivated. Also this is a very profitable breed since it survives well and maintains yield under rain fed horticultural crops.”

Benefits to cultivators

As of now, around 40 percent of the total expenditure in cashew cultivation is spent on harvesting €” through picking of fallen nuts.

Since the Nethra Jumbo-1 nut is larger, it will be a huge advantage to the farmers. “This variety produces a 12 gram nut with a high kernel recovery of 29 percent and the kernels fall under grade larger (W130) than presently available highest export grade (W180)” said Dr Adiga.

Other medium to small varieties weigh around 5 to 7 grams. A few exception of bold nut types weigh 8 to 9 grams. Premium sized kernels, lesser manpower for harvesting is the main advantage of this new variety. Since Nethra Jumbo-1 has bigger nut size, processors can pay around Rs 10 more per kg. This in turn will help the farmer to earn Rs 10,000 more per ton, said Dr Adiga. The bigger nuts improve processing efficiency in the factory as it saves labour, he added.

Additionally, Nethra Jumbo-1 bears fruit by January which is way ahead of cashew season. General cashews come to the market by March€”May. An early entry into the market means a better price, which is a win-win formula.

As of now, the trees are grown in the campus of the institute which are bearing healthy fruits. Saplings of the same will be distributed to farmers soon. Officials said that several growers have already approached for saplings.

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