The Bastar region in the state of Chhattisgarh is famous for its rich forest reserves, Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and Minor Forest Produce (MFP). This region has a large tribal population who are revered for their expertise and knowledge in natural and organic farming.
Kondagaon, a part of Bastar region has been making massive inroads in sustainable agriculture in recent years. Traditionally, this belt has been into paddy farming, but with excellent schemes and incentives offered by the Central Government, small and marginal farmers have taken to cultivating alternate cash crops in their forest lands like cashew, aromatic and medicinal plants.
Farmers say that the agro-climatic conditions with its dense forest cover, lateritic soil rich in organic matter and hot and dry summers, cool winters and adequate rainfall in the rainy season is ideal for cashew cultivation. Both native and high-yielding hybrid varieties are grown in this district.
All three parts of the cashew namely cashew nut, cashew apple and cashew nut shell are used. Kernel is used in confectionery, bakery products and as a paste. Cashew apples are dried, canned as a preserve or eaten fresh. Cashew apple squash, cashew apple jam and cashew apple chutney are sold locally. The cashew nut shells are sold to CNSL (Cashew Nut Shell Liquid) manufacturers that have innumerable applications in polymer-based industries.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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